Ukrainian sports minister calls for political boycott of 2018 World Cup in Russia
Ukrainian Youth and Sports Minister Ihor Zhdanov has called on the sports ministers of the countries participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Russia, to boycott the competition at the political level.
"I wrote letters to all ministers responsible for sport from the 35 countries whose teams were declared to participate in the World Cup in the aggressor country of Russia. I ask my colleagues to boycott these competitions at the political level," Zhdanov wrote on his Facebook page.
In the letter, the minister notes that given Russia's numerous blatant violations of the UN Charter and international law, countries must adequately and resolutely respond to Russian aggressive policy, occupation, interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and large-scale violations of human rights in Russia and in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories of Crimea and Donbas.
"Moreover, sanctions against Russia, including suspension of the Russian Olympic team from the 2018 Winter Olympics, demonstrates official recognition of Russia's violations of international anti-doping legislation by the international community and WADA," Zhdanov added.
In his opinion, Russian propaganda uses the 2018 World Cup to promote the idea of returning to "business as usual."
Zhdanov stressed that more than 60 innocent Ukrainian citizens are illegally imprisoned under fabricated and politically motivated charges in Russia and temporarily occupied Crimea, tortured and deprived of proper medical care.
"Oleh Sentsov, a famous Ukrainian filmmaker sentenced by a court in the Russian Federation to 20 years in prison under fabricated charges on terrorism, and an activist from Russia-occupied Crimea Volodymyr Balukh declared hunger strike in a protest against Russia's political persecutions and defined liberation of Ukrainian political prisoners as the condition for its termination. Their lives are in danger," he added.
The minister expressed confidence that Russia's crimes against Ukraine and rule-based democratic world order require a more resolute and effective response by the international community.
"In this regard, I call on you to boycott FIFA World Cup 2018 in the Russian Federation," Zhdanov said.