Russian dogs banned over Ukraine
The British organizers of the world’s biggest dog show, Crufts, have banned Russian owners and their pets from competing, in response to their country’s ongoing offensive of Ukraine.
Some 16,000 dogs from 38 countries are taking part in the high-profile event, being held at an exhibition center near Birmingham, in central England, since Thursday.
However, none of them this year are from Russia, as the Kennel Club, the organizer of the show, made the decision, “with a heavy heart,” not to allow some 30 Russian owners and 51 dogs to compete, “in the light of rapidly evolving circumstances.”
The Kennel Club’s chairman, Tony Allcock, later clarified what those ‘circumstances’ were, saying the organization “shares the world’s dismay and devastation” over the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
“These actions are a violation of human rights that are leaving those people in our canine community and beyond fearing for their lives, and, as an organization focused on animal welfare, our hearts are also breaking for all the dogs and other animals affected by this invasion,” he said on Thursday.
The Kennel Club will be donating £50,000 (around $66,000) to support partner groups in Ukraine, Poland, and Hungary so they can assist owners and their pets during the conflict.
The participants of the show, which has returned after a two-year break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, have also been demonstrating their support for Ukraine. Both owners and dogs have been photographed sporting yellow and blue ribbons in the colors of the Ukrainian national flag.
“It’s my way to show I’m thinking of the Ukrainians,” one of the owners told the news agency AFP. “I mean, it’s appalling. At least I can live my daily life normally. They can’t.”
Last week, Russian cats and their owners faced similar restrictions, as the International Feline Federation barred them from all its shows, citing the offensive in Ukraine as the reason.
The clampdown on Russia has also affected the country’s athletes in numerous disciplines, including football, with its national squad and clubs banned from international competitions. And it has led to prominent conductor Valery Gergiev and opera diva Anna Netrebko losing their jobs in Germany.
Even long-dead Russians have been targeted. An Italian university has canceled a course on the works of iconic 19th-century writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, while an orchestra in Wales has removed all pieces by composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky from its program.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the breakaway republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.