President of the Biathlon Federation of Ukraine Ivan Krulko in an exclusive interview with Aroged answered the question about the possible return of ex-Russian women to the Ukrainian national team.
Recall that immediately after the start of a full-scale war, Ekaterina Bekh, Olga Abramova, Oksana Moskalenko and Daria Sidorova fled to their small homeland, after which they were expelled from the Ukrainian national team.
– You said that you would focus on your own biathlon shots. Do you consider it necessary to involve naturalized athletes in the national team, in particular, ex-Russians who, after our victory, will express a desire to return to play for Ukraine?
– I cannot divide citizens of Ukraine into those who received Ukrainian citizenship by birthright, or those who received Ukrainian citizenship later on. Citizenship of Ukraine is granted exclusively by the President of Ukraine, and only the President of Ukraine can deprive Ukrainian citizenship, and, accordingly, the rights and freedoms that Ukrainian citizens have. If we have citizens of Ukraine who have an appropriate Ukrainian passport and want to show themselves in the competition, then such citizens of Ukraine have the right to do so.
I do not see any difference in the passport of the citizen of Ukraine who received it because he was born in Ukraine, and the one who received, for example, if his parents moved and he received such citizenship as a child. This life is different, and here we cannot divide.
But I want to say that I have my principled position. My principled position is that we must rely on our own strengths, and I would really like that in Ukrainian biathlon we would develop a systemic galaxy of young Ukrainian athletes who started their careers here, continue and get high results in the international arena.
– But the option of including in the future ex-Russians who have now left back is not excluded?
– Now we cannot treat the Russians with any sentiments – I didn’t have any sentiments before. Because I clearly understand the price of the neighbor that we have, who has always historically tried to make our country his vassal, slave, to occupy and destroy our statehood. I have no sentiments for Russia as a country – our neighbor, it is now our direct enemy, which is waging war against us and has waged such wars historically.
But there are times when ordinary people who do not support regimes change citizenship and leave the citizenship of their countries because they do not agree with the political regime that exists in the country. Therefore, we should not equate everyone with the same brush. We must always share, we must look objectively at the situation.
I will give a lot of examples of Ukrainian biathletes, whom we respect and love very much, who showed very good results, but they were not born in Ukraine, but this did not affect them in terms of the fact that they adequately represented our state. And it became our history. We also know examples when there were athletes who adequately represented Ukraine, but then continued their careers under other flags. And there were such cases, and this is also our history.
In particular, now our team has an athlete who was born not in Ukraine, but in Belarus, this is Daria Blashko. But she is part of our team and no one has any questions that she can represent Ukraine. She has the only citizenship – the citizenship of Ukraine, she has no other, and she plans to continue her sports career here. Therefore, I want us to be always objective.
And I say again, as the President of the Biathlon Federation, I want the national team of Ukraine to be represented in the competition by our athletes who will win this competition, will show high results and will be brought up from childhood in the Ukrainian biathlon system. This is what we should strive for in the future.
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