Ukraine accused of ‘extremism’ after demands against Russian skater


Ukrainian officials have called for Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova to be stripped of an award nomination

The Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation (UFSF) is guilty of “extremism and Nazism” after requesting that Russia’s Anna Shcherbakova be removed from a list of international award nominees, according to Russian State Duma Deputy Dmitry Svishchev.

Olympic champion Shcherbakova, 18, has been nominated by the International Skating Union (ISU) in the ‘Most Valuable Skater’ category for its 2023 Awards.

In response, Ukrainian figure skating officials have said they are “outraged” by the nomination, describing it as “shameful.”

In a letter to ISU president Kim Jae-youl and shared on the UFSF website, the organization calls for Shcherbakova to be dropped from the list of potential award winners.

“We ask you to pay attention to this nomination and facilitate the removal of this athlete from the nominees list,” reads the letter, which is dated December 20.

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In response, Russian lawmaker Svishchev – who is chairman of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture and Sports – has accused Ukrainian officials of stooping to discrimination.

“What are the reasons for such a demand from the Ukrainian federation? If it’s just that Shcherbakova is Russian, then it already smacks of Nazism and extremism,” Svishchev said, according to TASS.

“The ISU needs to take tough measures against national federations that try to use such methods of discrimination.

“Shcherbakova deservedly became a nominee for the ISU award, and there can be no reasonable revision of this decision.

“Let the Ukrainian federation take care of the quality of the performance of its own skaters in order to have at least some right to express its opinion on the issues of nominations,” added Svishchev.

The acting president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Aleksandr Kogan, likewise dismissed the Ukrainian demands as “nonsense.”

“They can send whatever [letters] they want, but we understand that this is nonsense. Naturally, we will only root for Shcherbakova,” Kogan said.

The ISU will announce the winners of its 2023 awards at a ceremony in Zurich on February 5.

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Shcherbakova made the list of nominees after her spellbinding performances earned Olympic gold in the women’s event at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games in February.

She finished ahead of compatriot Alexandra Trusova, who claimed silver, ahead of Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto in bronze.

Russian gold medal favorite Kamila Valieva finished down in fourth as the fallout from a scandal surrounding a positive doping sample taken six weeks before the Beijing Games took its toll.

Since the Beijing Games, all Russian skaters have been banned by the ISU because of the conflict in Ukraine, meaning they are confined to domestic competitions for the current season.

Shcherbakova will nonetheless be contending for the ISU’s MVP award, where she faces competition from skaters including Japan’s Sakamoto and American male star Nathan Chen.

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