The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has hit back at Ukraine’s defense ministry in a row over pictures of two athletes embracing at the Olympics, responding to a suggestion that they could become part of “special operations”.
Ukraine Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar announced that she had ordered an “immediate” meeting with Yaroslava Mahuchikh, the country’s high jumper and a junior army sergeant who was seen emotionally hugging new Russian champion Maria Lasitskene, an army athlete with CSKA.
Unimpressed Malyar accused Mahuchikh of “careless behavior” and a lack of understanding of what she described as the current “Russian-Ukrainian war”, adding that the bronze medalist’s perceived indiscretion “may become the object of the enemy’s information special operations.”
While Malyar told critics who have reacted furiously to Mahuchikh to stop targeting the 19-year-old, the politician also confirmed that she would be speaking to the athlete upon her return from Tokyo.
Maria Zakharova, a representative of the Russian ministry, argued that Mahuchikh did not deserve the reception she had received from many in her homeland.
“The Ukrainian defense department said that such photographs could become ‘the object of informational special operations of the enemy’,”responded Zakharova.
“It’s a pity they didn’t add that the enemy are the ones in Ukraine who started persecuting their own athlete for this photo. So they are real enemies of Ukraine.
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“And our athletes show a world class [approach], demonstrating pure sport without politics and intrigue.”
Ukrainian karate bronze medalist Stanislav Horuna and Borys Filatov, the Mayor of Mahuchikh’s home city of Dnipro, have both publicly offered support to her since the final.
Mahuchikh and Lasitskene draped themselves in the Ukrainian flag and the colors of the Russian Olympic Committee, which Russia appeared as at the Games because of a ruling by doping bosses, during their joint celebrations on Saturday.
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