Russian athletes were excluded from the Paralympic Games in Rio, but they are invisibly present there thanks to the support of our neighbors, who proved that "a friend in need is a friend indeed". The representative of Belarus came out with the Russian flag during the opening ceremony of the Games, and Azerbaijan refused to take the licenses taken from the Russian team. The director general of the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies and Initiatives, advisor to the general director of the MIA Russia Today, Veronika Krashennikova, told Vestnik Kavkaza what this support means for Russia, as well as the information attack on the Paralympics by the Western mass media.
- What does such symbolic support for Russia at the Paralympics by Belarus and Azerbaijan mean to Russia?
- It was a blasphemous decision under political pressure not to allow Russian athletes to perform at the Paralympic Games. Certainly, our colleagues understand that it was an inhumane decision. We highly appreciate the gesture by the Belarusian delegation and the decision by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Sports not to take licenses from the Russian team. It is a real feat in today's political climate. The first licenses were confiscated from the Russian delegation and transferred to the US. The decision was also considered as legitimate and right by Canadian athletes. The refusal by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Sports is especially valuable for us against this background.
- How would you assess the reaction of the Western media that the Russian flag at the opening ceremony of the Games spoiled the entire Paralympics?
- This reaction fits into the mainstream of the decision to suspend our Paralympic athletes from the Games in Rio. It could not have been changed. This is another confirmation that Russia is faced with information, psychological and political actions against it. You can punish anyone in the current situation, except for Paralympians. Nevertheless, politicians in Washington are ready to take such cruel decisions.
- How is it appropriate to make the Paralympic competitions the subject of political speculations?
- Let me remind you that the charter of the Olympic Games clearly states that the Games are outside of politics. The decision adopted in relation to the Russian Paralympians makes the Paralympics part of politics. This is a very regrettable event for the world of sport.
How should Russia respond to this attack on our Paralympic athletes?
- First of all, should give the opportunity for Paralympians to perform and we have done so. I note that Paralympic competitions are taking place at the present time at suburban Russian bases near Moscow. The Paralympians have already established several world records. In general, in terms of a systematic solution we should completely revise the quality of Russian work in the global sports community, including the International Olympic Committee, in order to prevent a repetition of such events. The fact is that Russian sports officials have failed to find a threat. It is necessary to coordinate our work in an extremely careful way in the field of sports, as in foreign policy, because today sport has become a part of politics.