Politician slams after European nation punishes skaters for Russian show – RT Sport News

Lithuania stripped ice dancing duo Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas of a state award

Lithuania does “outcasts of national heroes” by punishing former Olympic skating stars Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas for participating in an exhibition in Sochi, according to Russian State Duma deputy Dmitry Svishchev.

Drobiazko, 50, and his partner Vanagas, 52, are currently skating in the ‘Swan Lake’ show organized by former Russian Olympic ice dancing champion Tatiana Navka on the Black Sea coast.

In response, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda announced in a social media post on Wednesday that he was stripping Drobiazko and Vanagas of the “Order of Gediminas” awarded to them in 2000.

Nauseda claimed the pair were “spit on” the memory of those who were killed in the Ukrainian conflict while performing in Russia.

The Lithuanian leader also suggested he may seek to change the law so that the Russian-born Drobiazko is stripped of the Lithuanian citizenship she received in 1993.

Drobiazko and Vanagas have competed in five Olympics and won bronze for Lithuania at the 2000 World Championships.

Russian politician Svishchev – who heads the Duma’s sports committee – condemned the Lithuanian authorities and said Russia would seek to support the duo.

“[The Lithuanian] the parliament, the minister of foreign affairs, the president – have always said that if the athletes continue to participate in Russian shows, they will be deprived of awards and even citizenship”, Svischev told RIA Novosti.

“The state award has already been withdrawn. I have never heard or seen anything like this before.

“Champions who have won medals for a country and who love (winter) sports (in a country) where there are very few medals.

“And instead of idolizing and creating the conditions for them to continue to work, to raise children (they are deprived of rewards)…

“Any country should be proud of its heroes, and here they promise to make outcasts out of heroes.

“Russia, I think, should reach out to them. We will closely monitor the development of the situation,” he added.

Zelensky punishes Olympic hero for Russian performances

Other Russian figures reacted with similar dismay to the sanctions imposed on the ice dancing couple.

Iconic figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova described him as a “true genocide” while show organizer Navka called her “blind hatred” to Russia.

Drobiazko and Vanagas aren’t the only skaters being punished for performing in Russia.

1992 Ukrainian Olympic champion Viktor Petrenko was stripped of a state grant in his country by President Vladimir Zelensky after performing at another Navka show in Sochi.

Despite the row, organizers said Drobiazko and Vanagas will continue to feature in ‘Swan Lake’ as scheduled, with the show continuing through September 18 at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi.


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