Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak said he has no regrets after posing with a pro-war “Z” symbol at a Sunday medal ceremony.
Kuliak, who earned bronze in the parallel bars final at the Apparatus World Cup in Qatar, displayed the symbol while standing on a podium with his Ukrainian rival†
The symbol can be seen on the side of Russian tanks and military vehicles used to invade Ukraine.
It has since been co-opted by civilians supporting the invasion, seemingly including Kuliak, who was defeated in the event by Ukrainian athlete Illia Kovtun, who took gold.
After Kuliak’s showing, he was sharply criticized, including by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), which called for disciplinary action over his ‘shocking behaviour’.
But according to a report by the Press Association news agency, Kuliak defended his actions by saying in an interview with state-sponsored media outlet Russia Today: “If there was a second chance and I had the choice to go out with the letter go, ‘Z’ on my chest or not, I’d do the same.”
“I saw it on our army and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out to be ‘for victory’ and ‘for peace’. I just wanted to show my position. As an athlete I will always fight for victory and play for the peace.”
The false claim that Russia sought peace in Ukraine by launching an invasion is a hot topic in the Russian media.
Insider was unable to access the Russia Today website on Tuesday morning.
Kuliak’s bosses at home also said they supported the athlete’s choices.
“I don’t think Ivan wanted to give a special demonstration, but at least we will support him,” said Vasily Titov, the head of the Russian Artistic Gymnastics Federation.
Titov seemed to suggest that Kuliak was only punished for breaking uniform rules.
“It was a violation of the FIG-approved uniform. I think they can punish,” he said, before noting that a punishment would be a ban.
This would not make a big difference, according to Titov, as Russian athletes were already banned from international competitions from Monday.
“They can also remove us from participating. But we were already removed,” he said.
Kuliak’s performance on Sunday was the last chance for gymnasts from Russia and Belarus – a Russian ally and a key staging area for Russian armed forces – to compete in international events after their country was banned from participating in FIG and FIG events. sanctioned competitions as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The FIG has also canceled events in Russia or Belarus until further notice.
This post Russian Gymnast Defends Rendering of Pro-War ‘Z’, Says Would Do It Again was original published at “https://www.insider.com/russian-gymnast-defends-display-pro-war-z-would-do-again-2022-3”