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Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak wears ‘Z’ war symbol on medal podium next to Ukrainian athlete Illia Kovtun

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There were tense scenes when a Russian gymnast stood beside a Ukrainian athlete on the podium, and revealed a pro-war symbol.

A Russian gymnast wore a pro-war ‘Z’ symbol while standing beside a Ukrainian athlete on the podium.

Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun claimed victory in the parallel bars at the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Doha, Qatar.

Kazakhstan’s Milad Karimi secured the silver medal, with Russia’s Ivan Kuliak taking bronze.

But when Kuliak stepped onto the podium it became apparent he was sporting the ‘Z’ symbol on his kit.

Vladimir Putin’s supporters have been seen wearing clothes and badges with the letter ‘Z’ on – referencing their support for the invasion of Ukraine.

The symbol – which represents the Russian phrase for victory – has been visible on Putin’s tanks and killing machines entering Ukraine.

It is widely considered to be the sign which symbolises the war.

And Kremlin-funded TV channel Russia Today was recently slammed for selling ‘Z’ merchandise.

So when Kuliak stepped onto the podium with the ‘Z’ symbol clearly on his top, it was a shocking statement – particularly given Ukraine’s Kovtun was the winner of the discipline.

When Kovtun took to the top step to receive his gold medal, he shook hands with Kazakh Karimi but did not acknowledge Kuliak.

Reacting to the ceremony, one social media user simply said: “Disgusting.”

While another added: “Russian should be stripped of the award and banned for a period of time.”

Ukraine is currently under attack following Putin’s decision to invade the country.

As of Saturday, the United Nations had recorded at least 752 civilian casualties so far across Ukraine, with 227 killed and 525 injured.

And sporting bodies have imposed strict sanctions on Russia – throwing them out of a host of major competitions including the World Cup and Winter Olympic Games.

This story appeared in The Sun and has been reproduced with permission



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