Russia or Russell? Georgian wrestler's hat causes a stir

Two photos of the wrestler, one which appears he has a hat with 'RUSS' written on it, the other from the side, showing the rest of the text spelling 'RUSSELL' Image copyright Jaba Kvelashvili
Image caption From a different angle the name on the hat becomes clear

Keeping warm whilst training is always advisable, but when a Georgian wrestler's hat was featured in the media, little did he know he would come under fire for his choice of clothing.

On 13 February, two Georgian news websites published a photo of Jaba Kvelashvili, who was out running with the national wrestling team, accusing him of wearing a "Russia" hat.

However, the stories were removed and apologies published by On.ge and Tabula.ge after Mr Kvelashvili posted another photo of the infamous hat, revealing the word on it was in fact "Russell".

Sensitivity over the name on the hat is unsurprising, given the history of tension between Georgia and Russia.

Train in peace

In his post, which shows him sporting the same hat at a different angle, Mr Kvelashvili acknowledges the mix-up but asks people to "let us train in peace and focus on sports coverage instead".

Unsurprisingly, some people took to social media to mock the blunder.

In a bid to rectify their error, the On.ge news website apologised for their mistake and highlighted some of the reaction from online users. Its headline photo featured Gladiator actor Russell Crowe, with the caption "Je suis Russel".


When angles matter

One user posted two photos of Prince William (from news agency Reuters) side-by-side, which demonstrate how photos taken from certain angles can be deceptive. One appears to show the prince holding up a middle finger, while from a better vantage point, it's clear there are three fingers unfolded.


Another posted a cropped photo of a microphone belonging to the popular Rustavi-2 TV channel - with only the letters RUS visible - saying, "Tabula, On.ge, Rustavi-2 microphone says Russia, did you know this?"


Also on Facebook, Zaza Kevlishvili joked: "On.ge, you know, the actor, Kurt Russell, there is RUS in his last name and I think it is time for you to start panicking."

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Tense relations

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Georgia became an independent state and the increasing US economic and political influence there caused great concern for Russia.

In 1993, separatists drove Georgian troops out of almost all of the region of Abkhazia, which became an internationally unrecognised breakaway state under Russian influence.

Georgia was drawn into a war in breakaway South Ossetia in 2008, which saw Russian forces intervene and evict Georgia's army from its remaining areas of control in the region.

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