As the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics came to a close and country results gathered, attention turned to individual athletes.
This is the case of 19-year-old Ukrainian high jumper Yarolsava Mahuchikh, who went overnight to be celebrated for winning a bronze medal in the high jump event to be questioned for kissing and posed for photos with Russian high jumper Maria Lasitskene after the conclusion of the event. .
In the photos, Mahuchikh, a junior sergeant in the Ukrainian armed forces, is seen with a Ukrainian flag draped over her shoulders, smiling as she hugs Lasitskene.
Lasitskene competed as a member of the Russian Olympic Committee, a name given to Russia‘s representatives at this year’s Olympics after the country was sanctioned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after allegedly leading a doping program backed by the ‘State. She is also a member of her country’s armed forces, having received the rank of captain in the Russian army in 2019. Lasitskene was congratulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin on his victory in the event.
On August 9, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said she would meet with Mahuchikh upon her return from Tokyo. “Athletes representing Ukraine at international tournaments must understand that the Russian-Ukrainian war is still taking place in Ukraine and that this imposes on them some type of limitations and responsibilities,” said Maliar.
She said the photos of hugs with Russian athletes served as an opportunity and “info-psychological grenade” that could be used by Russia to arm false propaganda that the Kremlin is not involved in a war against it. ‘Ukraine. “The reckless behavior of our athletes, whom we love and support, can become the subject of special enemy information operations,” she said.
Ukrainian karateka Stanislav Horuna, who won bronze in the men’s under 75 kilogram kumite karate category, took to Facebook to express his support for Mahuchikh. “Sport is outside of politics, damn it! Leave the athletes alone with your policy, ”he wrote.
Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and continues to occupy Crimea and the eastern part of Donbass in violation of international law. Kremlin forces have also committed war crimes. Some 14,000 people have been killed in the war in Russia.