Russian gymnast criticized for ‘shocking behavior’ after wearing ‘Z’ symbol next to Ukrainian athlete
The organization that oversees Russian gymnasts acknowledged in a statement that Kuliak’s display violated FIG rules, but expressed the organization’s support for his actions.
The ‘Z’ insignia has been displayed on tanks and vehicles used by the Russian military in its Ukraine operations and has since become a symbol of support for the invasion of Ukraine.
Propaganda videos on social media appear to show supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing clothing featuring the ‘Z’ symbol, waving Russian flags and chanting pro-Russia slogans.
“I don’t think that Ivan wanted to make a special demonstration, but we will support him in any case,” he said.
“It was a violation of the uniform approved by the FIG. I think that they can punish, they can also remove us from participation. But we were already removed.”
CNN has reached out to the FSGR but has yet to receive a response.
The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation told CNN that it couldn’t comment on pending or potential cases as a matter of procedure.
It comes as the United Nations estimates that more than 1.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since February 24. Ukraine and Russia are scheduled to hold a third round of talks Monday, according to negotiators, as fighting continues across the country.