Last week, Russia celebrated the eighth anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea at Moscow’s Luzhniki Olympic Stadium. The event attracted more than 100,000 viewers. The famous Russian athlete also appeared at the rally where Vladimir Putin spoke. swimmer Yevgeny Rylov, pair of figure skaters Yevgeny Tarasov and Vladimir Morozov or skier Alexander Bolshunov.
The latter of the above, a three-time Beijing Winter Olympics gold medalist, has come under strong criticism from abroad. – People wonder if they are forced to do it, are they really stupid enough to do it, – commented the Swedish biathlete Sebastian Samuelsson in an interview with the Swedish daily Aftonbladet.
Unlike many of the other athletes in the parade, Bolshunov refrained from wearing the “Z” symbol – which was used by Russian troops invading Ukraine, despite being a member of the Federal Service of the Russian National Guard. Shortly after winning three gold medals in Beijing, he was even promoted to captain. But Bolshunov was already causing controversy, if only after he posted a photo on social media in an athlete’s outfit from the Soviet Union. It was true that he quickly removed it, but the Rossignol company he worked with was not satisfied. The French ski equipment manufacturer considered it inappropriate in the context of the situation in Ukraine and ended cooperation with the Olympic medalists.
“I’m for the president”
Ski jumper Yevgeny Klimov on the hill is usually average, but recently he has also been keeping up with the publicity. During the World Cup competition in Finland’s Lahti, he wore gloves with the flag and coat of arms of Russia. This comes days after the armed attacks in Ukraine. Klimov’s behavior was seen as conspicuous support for the invasion.
The troupe of famous winter sports names was completed by skater Yevgeny Plyushchenko. The two-time Olympic gold medalist explained that “you can’t mix sport with politics.” He drew attention to “discrimination against Russia” and “unfair sanctions”, he also called for “overcoming political differences”. In the end, however, the skater stated that she “believed in President” Putin.
One of the loudest names who supported the war was also former heavyweight boxing world champion Alexander Povetkin. In justifying Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the boxer relied on Russian director Sergei Bodrov’s words that “strength lies in the truth”. He also wrote about “the extermination of the Slavs in the Donbas.” “That’s why I support the president,” Povetkin said on his Instagram, explaining that “Putin cares about ordinary people being parasitized by Ukrainian Nazism.”
“Russian chess grandmaster Sergey Karjakin was expelled from the competition for six months for his support for the invasion of Ukraine,” the International Chess Federation (FIDE) announced. The word “Russian” has a completely different meaning for this chess player than for any other sportsman. Until the age of nineteen, Karjakin represented Ukraine, where he was born. In 2009, he changed his nationality to Russian. He quickly began to present a radical change of view. In 2014, he supported the seizure of Crimea, and recently wrote a letter of support for Putin. Shortly after the decision to kick him out, Karjakin had no regrets and wrote that “he will keep doing the same thing.”
The echoes of the scandalous World Cup competition in gymnastics in Doha continue. 20-year-old Iwan Kuljak is competing as a “neutral” competitor due to a ban on the use of Russia’s national symbol. He appeared on the podium with the letter Z on his chest, next to the winner from Ukraine, Ilya Kovtun. The perplexed perpetrator saw nothing wrong with it, explaining that he felt provoked by the Ukrainian gymnast. In the end, the World Gymnastics Federation excluded all athletes from Belarus and Russia.
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