Ukrainian figure skaters decide to speak Russian, despite official ban

Ukrainian athletes decide to speak Russian at Beijing Olympics

Ukrainian figure skaters Artem Darensky and Sofia Golichenko, who perform in pair skating, chose to speak Russian at the Beijing Olympics, despite the ban from Ukraine's Ministry of Sports, RIA Novosti reports.

The athletes stated that it was up to them to decide in which language to communicate at the Olympics.

"We can speak Ukrainian, Russian and English. It's just that it's really hard for us to speak Ukrainian, and in order for people to understand us more, we speak Russian,” said Darensky.

On January 21, the Ministry of Sports of Ukraine advised Ukrainian athletes to refuse interviews in Russian. In addition, athletes from Ukraine were forbidden to pose for joint photos with the Russians.

The scandal erupted when after Ukrainian high jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh posed for a photo with Maria Lasitskene of Russia at the Summer Games in Tokyo: Lasitskene became the Olympic champion, and Mahuchikh took the bronze at Tokyo Games in 2020. The Ukrainian athlete was criticized at home afterwards and was summoned to the Ministry of Defense for a conversation.

The Winter Olympic Games in Beijing take place from 4 to 20 February.

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