Russian karting teen hit with more punishment in ‘Nazi salute’ scandal
Russian karting driver Artem Severiukhin has been stripped of his Italian racing license as the fallout continues after the teenager was accused of making a Nazi salute on the podium at a race in Portugal at the weekend.
Severiukhin, 15, tapped at his chest and then stretched out his arm before bursting into laughter after winning round one of the FIA Karting European Championship at Portimao on Sunday.
The gesture, which was clearly captured on camera, soon spread across the internet as Severiukhin was widely condemned for what appeared to resemble a fascist gesture.
The teenager himself later issued a tearful video apology in which he admitted he had been “stupid” but denied the act was supporting Nazism.
The Russian has since been sacked by Swedish team Ward Racing, while international governing body the FIA has launched an investigation.
In the latest blow to the youngster’s career, the Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI), under whose license Severiukhin was competing following sanctions imposed on Russia, announced it was removing his credentials while a probe involving its Sports Council is ongoing.
The Russian Automobile Federation (RAF) has also said it is considering potential measures regarding the young racer.
Severiukhin said in his video apology shared by the RAF on Monday that he was “ready to be punished.”
“Standing on the podium, I made a gesture that many perceived as a Nazi salute. But it's not the case. I have never supported Nazism and consider it one of the worst crimes against humanity,” said the teenager.
“I raced under an Italian license and won the race under the Italian flag. And the guys in front of the podium showed me that in Italy, in such cases, it is customary to hit oneself on the chest in the region of the heart, expressing gratitude.
“I just wanted to make this gesture. How everything else happened I can’t explain.
“I know I’m to blame, I know I’m stupid. And I’m ready to be punished.
“I just ask you to understand me – that in my actions there was no support for Nazism or fascism. There was no desire to offend the drivers, fans, the team, viewers of the broadcast. Forgive me, please,” added the karting star.
RAF spokeswoman Maria Melnikova has suggested Severiukhin’s career could be finished as a result of the scandal.