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Ukrainian skier drops out of Olympics to protest violence

Ukrainian skier drops out of Olympics to protest violence

A Ukrainian skier has dropped out of the Sochi Winter Olympics as an act of solidarity with protesters in Ukraine, amid escalated violence in Kiev this week.

From the Associated Press via ABC News:

A Ukrainian skier has withdrawn from the Olympics in response to the deaths of anti-government protesters in her country.

“I don’t want to participate when in my country people die,” Bogdana Matsotska told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The 24-year-old skier is refusing to ski Friday in the slalom, which is her third and best event at the Sochi Olympics.

Matsotska wants to leave the Olympics immediately to join protesters in the camp known as Maidan in Kiev’s Independence Square, but said she has been unable to book a flight home.

“I am in Maidan but just with my soul,” she said.

The two-time Olympian explained her frustration with Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych in an interview conducted in English and Russian.

“I think as a minimum he has to be jailed, and for a long time,” Matsotska said. “For all the lives that he took, for all the lives of innocent people that came peacefully to stand for their opinion.

“I hope that I will be heard by the world and that probably somebody will step in and will help,” she said.

Matsotska is remaining with Oleg Matsotskyy, her father and coach, in the athletes village in the mountains above Sochi.

Matsotska said that she and her father made the decision together.

The Olympian’s decision comes after violence reignited in Ukraine this week.  A truce was briefly declared Wednesday between the government and opposition, but that quickly fell apart as protesters and police forces again clashed by Thursday morning.

From CNN:

The latest bloodshed happened early Thursday, a mere hours after Ukraine’s president and the leaders of three opposition parties agreed to a truce and talks.

Pitched battles broke out in downtown Kiev, with protesters tossing rocks and firebombs at police under a sky blackened by smoke from their burning barricades. At least one protester fired toward police lines with a shotgun.

Security forces appeared to fight back with automatic weapons and at least one sniper rifle.

The European Union meanwhile agreed Thursday upon a series of sanctions that it was prepared to impose in light of the situation in Ukraine, according to the NY Times.

Brushing aside Russian criticism, the European Union agreed on Thursday to go ahead with sanctions that include travel bans and asset freezes imposed on those deemed responsible for the fatal escalation of violence in Ukraine.

A day after the United States announced some similar moves, foreign ministers of the 28-nation European Union said they would devise a list of those who would be subject to the European sanctions, and that the sanctions would also ban the export of equipment likely to be used for repression in Ukraine.

But the European foreign ministers also left themselves room to continue with dialogue with the government of President Viktor F. Yanukovych, stressing the importance of political progress in Kiev where the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland have been trying to mediate.

The council not only called upon the Ukrainian government “to exercise maximum restraint,” but also for “opposition leaders to distance themselves from those who resort to radical action, including violence.”  (Read the full statement regarding council conclusions on Ukraine from the EU).

(Featured image: AP video via NBC Philadelphia)


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Now that’s moral courage.

BannedbytheGuardian | February 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Ok so they gave decided to stay in the nice picturesque mountains & eat free & party . That is the spirit Bigdana!

Do not take your place on the slopes or extreme constructs up there , do not give Ukes something to cheer on !

Do not do what The Ukraine Olympic committee used rare funds to send you to do.

BannedbytheGuardian | February 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Medal table . ONE bronze medal for Ukraine.

Says it all.

    Says what exactly? That Ukrainian Olympians are underfunded?

    There are Ukrainian women in both Russian and German figure skating pairs, and they did very well, first and second place. I suppose it works as a metaphor.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to edgeofthesandbox. | February 22, 2014 at 12:57 am

      Edge – these are EX Ukrainians . Include in that list the winner of the aerials Alla Tsuper who at 34 now represents Belorussia. I remember her as a 16 year old in the Ukrainian system. ( she was recruited at 12 ) .

      There is nothing wrong with Ukrainian capabilities but they do not want to /can get no funding in Uke .

      However the team that did stay ( ironically military based biathalons ) did win Gold.

      I rest my case .

“I am in Maidan but just with my soul,” she said.

That’s certainly the safe way to do it.

I saw elsewhere that Obama is working hard on the crisis. He managed to get preview copies of the new Game of Thrones and True Detectives series and is taking a long weekend.

If his movie pals hadn’t provided those, he’d have been stuck spending his long vacation weekend listening to boring-ass briefings on riots and arson and mayhem in Venezuela and Ukraine.

I’m afraid this one fails as an attempt to rain on Vlad’s parade.