Ukrainian figure skater refuses to speak Russian at press conference
Ukrainian figure skating prospect Ivan Shmuratko, who will represent his country at the 2022 Beijing Games, switched to English when responding to a question asked by a Russian reporter on Monday, apparently following instructions to avoid “Russian provocations.”
During a press conference held immediately after figure skating practice in Beijing, the 20-year-old, who speaks fluent Russian, chose to converse in English with Russian reporters.
Talking to the press, Shmuratko expressed happiness that Ukraine will take part in the team event which will open the Olympic figure skating contest.
When asked why he preferred using the English language to communicate with the Russian media, the athlete noted that he simply wanted to compete at the Olympics, apparently referring to instructions issued by Ukraine’s sports minister.
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s youth and sports minister, Vadim Guttsait, advised Ukrainian Olympic competitors on how to behave with their Russian counterparts during the Beijing Games to avoid “Russian provocations.”
“We had an online meeting with athletes and coaches discussing how to behave in such situations when there are provocations, like those we saw at the summer Olympics,” he said. “They should not stand together with Russian athletes who are holding a flag.”
Shmuratko told reporters: "At this Olympics, we only speak Ukrainian or English.
"It's great that the Ukrainian team will take part in the team tournament.
"We are happy to represent our country, we will try to do our job as best as possible.
"Why do I speak English? As you know, I do everything to be here. I am an athlete and all my work is on the ice.
"I felt good on the Olympic skating rink. My first experience on the ice of the Olympics is great. I am proud to represent Ukraine and Ukrainians in Beijing.
"I am here to do my job. I will try to do it as best as possible. Everything I can do for my country is to focus on my performance as much as possible."
During the Tokyo Olympic Games, Ukrainian high-jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who won bronze, was lambasted at home after she was pictured together with gold medalist Mariya Lasitskene from Russia.