President of Ukraine

Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine met with the President of the International Federation of Gymnastics

1 April 2023 - 22:48

Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine met with the President of the International Federation of Gymnastics

Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak held a meeting with President of the International Federation of Gymnastics Morinari Watanabe who is on a visit to Ukraine.

The meeting was also attended by Daria Herasymchuk, Adviser - Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights and Rehabilitation, sister of acting commander of the 36th marine brigade Serhiy Volynsky Tetiana Kharko, Minister of Youth and Sports Vadym Huttsait, Ukrainian track and field athlete, medalist of the Olympic Games Olena Hovorova.

The participants of the meeting told Morinari Watanabe about Russia's aggression against Ukraine, in particular crimes against Ukrainian children, including forced deportation. The representatives of Ukraine also emphasized that Russia uses its athletes to propagandize aggression, so they called on Morinari Watanabe to support the initiative to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in the 2024 Olympics.

The Head of the President's Office noted that 90% of representatives of Russian gymnastics are simultaneously members of the club of the Russian army - CSKA, which essentially means representing the Russian military - precisely those who take part in the bombing, destruction of Ukrainian cities and murders of Ukrainians every day.

"We know that sanctions are the best non-lethal method of influence. Therefore, Ukraine emphasizes the need to continue sanctions. And one of their types is to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in the Olympic Games and other international competitions," Andriy Yermak said.

The Head of the President's Office resolutely emphasized: Ukraine seeks to expel Russian troops from its land, to restore territorial integrity. And with regard to persons who support Russian aggression, appropriate steps should be taken by all international organizations, including sports ones.

"I am conveying congratulations from the President - he sincerely appreciates your personal visit to Ukraine, and I especially ask you to take into account the information provided during today's meeting when making a decision regarding the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to participation in competitions. We hope that you will understand our pain, our tragedy," said Andriy Yermak.

At the same time, the Head of the Office of the President personally thanked Morinari Watanabe and the Japanese government for supporting our athletes.

"I want to thank you for the opportunity to hold a sports meeting for Ukrainian rhythmic gymnasts on the territory of Japan, organized last year, as well as for the personal participation in the farewell ceremony for the outstanding Albina Deriugina," said Andriy Yermak.

Daria Herasymchuk spoke in more detail about Russia's crimes against Ukrainian children. She noted that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, 468 young citizens of Ukraine were killed by the Russian aggressor, 944 children were injured, 13 were raped by the Russian military, hundreds of thousands were abducted by the Russian authorities and forcibly removed from the territory of Ukraine, with the subsequent change of citizenship and adoption by Russian citizens.

"We understand that Russia is carrying out its genocidal policy with the aim of taking away Ukraine's future, taking away our children, who are the most important for us," she said.

Daria Herasymchuk emphasized that even in conditions when children survived shelling and did not receive physical injuries, almost every Ukrainian child received psychological trauma from the war.

The Adviser - Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights and Rehabilitation also told Morinari Watanabe the story of the young gymnast Oleksandra Pascal, who lost her leg as a result of one of the rocket attacks by the Russian Federation. As the girl's mother Maria told during the call, her daughter received numerous injuries and damages, underwent a coma and complex treatment, and most importantly, she lost the opportunity to do her favorite gymnastics due to amputation. However, now the girl has a prosthesis and is gradually returning to training with it.

Maria Pascal also spoke in favor of removing Russian athletes from the Olympic competitions and called on the President of the International Federation of Gymnastics to support this call.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, in turn, emphasized that the Russian war took the lives of 262 athletes who also dreamed of being at the Olympic Games and international championships. The Russian army also destroyed 363 sports facilities in Ukraine.

"It is very important for us that there are no athletes from Russia at sports competitions and the Olympic Games, because they all support this war and attend events held in support of this war," Vadym Huttsait emphasized, noting that Russian athletes wear uniforms with the symbols of this war and do not condemn the killing of Ukrainian sportsmen.

Olena Hovorova, for her part, noted that the presence of Russian athletes at international competitions will never be understood by athletes from Ukraine who lost their relatives and loved ones due to Russian aggression, experienced the occupation, were forced to train in shelters or with constant interruptions due to bombing.

"I really want you to support those international and sports colleagues who have already made a decision to exclude Russia and Belarus from the world sports movement," said the track and field athlete. Olena Hovorova also thanked Morinari Watanabe for supporting Ukrainian gymnasts and giving them the opportunity to train in Japan.

Sister of acting commander of the 36th marine brigade Serhiy Volynsky Tetiana Kharko reminded that the main principles of the Olympic Games are the support of a peaceful world society, and Russia violates this principle and sends its soldiers to kill the peaceful Ukrainian population, rape women and children, violates all international human rights and rules accepted by the entire civilized world. Separately, she emphasized the issue of prisoners of war, as her brother underwent Russian captivity, where he was held in inhumane conditions.

"His brothers-in-arms return to Ukraine as crippled people, they lose up to 40 kg of weight, people die in captivity... This is the fault of the Russian Federation. I believe that one of the ways to stop this horror is to keep Russia out of the Olympic Games. The civilized world must show its true values," said Tetiana Kharko.

Morinari Watanabe, for his part, noted that he is a friend of Ukraine and Ukrainian gymnastics. He said that he visited Bucha, where he saw with his own eyes the consequences of the actions of the Russian military, and talked with local residents.

“I feel your pain. Those who support the war deserve severe punishment," said the President of the International Federation of Gymnastics at the end of the meeting.