HomeInternationalIvan Kuliak: Russian gymnast says he has no regrets about wearing 'Z'...

Ivan Kuliak: Russian gymnast says he has no regrets about wearing ‘Z’ symbol on podium next to Ukrainian athlete ​– state media

The 20-year-old was condemned by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) for his “shocking behavior” at a gymnastics World Cup occasion in Doha, Qatar, final weekend.

Kuliak wore a ‘Z’ symbol taped to his leotard whereas standing next to​Ukrainian gymnast ​Illia Kovtun on the podium — Kovtun received gold and Kuliak picked up bronze within the parallel bars on Saturday.

The ‘Z’ insignia has been displayed on tanks and automobiles utilized by the Russian army in its Ukraine operations and has since turn into a symbol of help for the invasion of Ukraine.

Propaganda movies on social media seem to present supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin ​wearing clothes that includes the ‘Z’ symbol, waving Russian flags and chanting pro-Russia slogans.

“If there was a second chance and I would again have to choose whether to go out with the letter ‘Z’ on my chest or not, I would do exactly the same,” Kuliak​is quoted as saying in Russia-controlled media outlet Russia Today. ​

“I saw it with our military and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out [it means], ‘for victory’ and ‘for peace.’

“I did not want something dangerous on anybody, I simply confirmed my place. As an athlete, I’ll all the time struggle for victory and stand for peace.”

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Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak was  criticized after wearing 'Z' symbol on a podium.

Having received expressions of support from the head of ​his sport’s governing body in Russia, the Artistic Gymnastics Federation of Russia (FSGR), Vasily Titov, Kuliak says he was annoyed by the Ukrainian athletes when they displayed their national flag at the event in Doha.

Per FIG regulations ​at the time, Russian gymnasts at the event were only allowed to compete as neutral athletes and could not display any national symbols.

The FIG confirmed ​in a statement it would ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) to open disciplinary proceedings against Kuliak. The GEF told CNN that it couldn’t comment on pending or potential cases as a matter of procedure.

Since Monday, Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, are not allowed to take part in official FIG-sanctioned competitions following advice from the International Olympic Committee.
It comes because the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi estimates that ​no less than ​two million refugees have fled Ukraine since February 24, as combating continues throughout the nation.
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