As Russia started its invasion of Ukraine in February, Viktor Petrenko, certainly one of Ukraine’s most seen Olympic champions, posted the message “NO WAR” to his Instagram account. Days later, Petrenko’s daughter stated her father had been stranded in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, the place he was taking shelter after getting back from a commemoration of his 1992 Olympic determine skating title that had been held in his hometown, Odesa.
Petrenko gave the impression to be one of many many Ukrainian athletes who would defiantly function wartime ambassadors for his or her besieged nation. However since then, his standing as a champion has deteriorated in his native nation.
In June, Petrenko introduced his intention to depart the Ukrainian determine skating federation. A day later, he was provisionally expelled, a federation official stated. And in July, Petrenko was formally ousted, and fired from his place as a vice chairman, after he participated in an ice present in Sochi, Russia.
On Monday, the workplace of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, introduced that Zelensky had stripped Petrenko of a month-to-month stipend given to high athletes and different Ukrainians of nice achievement, citing Petrenko’s efficiency in Russia.
The ice present was organized by Tatiana Navka, a 2006 Olympic ice dancing champion, who’s the spouse of Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman. In March, the USA Treasury Division imposed sanctions on Peskov and Navka for his or her ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and stated that Navka had a property empire value greater than $10 million.
One other skater within the present, known as “The Scarlet Flower,” is Kamila Valieva, the Russian teenager whose optimistic take a look at for a banned substance was made public throughout the Beijing Olympics in February and who bungled her closing routine of the Video games underneath the load of worldwide scrutiny. The present is scheduled to proceed via September, although it’s not clear if Petrenko continues to be performing in it.
In January, earlier than the warfare began, Petrenko posted on Instagram that he was performing in St. Petersburg, Russia. However the Ukrainian skating federation stated it was “outraged” by Petrenko’s skating in Russia after the invasion occurred.
“The previous athlete made his shameful choice regardless of the bloody full-scale warfare that Russia has been waging,” the federation stated in an announcement, in line with a translation. The deaths of 1000’s of Ukrainians, the assertion stated, “didn’t turn out to be an impediment for Viktor Petrenko to exit on the ice” in Russia “and carry out in the identical crew with the supporters of this horrible warfare.”
Ukraine’s Olympic Committee additionally denounced Petrenko’s habits, saying it was “unacceptable” to carry out “on the territory of the aggressor nation, which is waging a brutal warfare towards Ukraine.”
On Monday, Petrenko, 53, didn’t reply to a request for remark. His daughter, Victoria, who lives in New York, stated she was at work and unable to talk with a reporter.
Galina Zmievskaya, who coached Petrenko to his gold medal and now teaches skating in Hackensack, N.J., additionally didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Anastasiya Makarova, the overall secretary of Ukraine’s determine skating affiliation, stated in a WhatsApp message Monday that Petrenko wrote a letter to officers on June 21, earlier than he skated in Russia, saying that he wished to depart the federation.
Petrenko defined within the letter that he was spending most of his time outdoors Ukraine whereas conducting his skilled skating actions, Makarova stated. Petrenko spends a lot of his time teaching and performing in ice reveals throughout Europe. Skating, like the remainder of life in Ukraine, has been disrupted by the warfare.
He was provisionally expelled from the federation a day later, then formally ousted on July 9 by the federation’s council, Makarova stated. “Sadly, I don’t know why he took half within the present” in Russia, Makarova stated.
Petrenko received a bronze medal whereas competing for the Soviet Union on the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, ending third within the so-called Battle of the Brians received by Brian Boitano of the USA over Brian Orser of Canada.
4 years later, Petrenko received gold on the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. Solely two months earlier, the Soviet Union had dissolved. Petrenko competed throughout that tumultuous interval not for Ukraine however for what was known as the Unified Staff in Albertville, composed of athletes from former Soviet republics.
In 1994, when the Winter and Summer time Video games started being held in separate years, Petrenko completed fourth on the Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, this time skating for the blue and yellow flag of his native Ukraine.
Within the early Nineteen Nineties, although, he joined an exodus of greater than 100 skaters and coaches from the previous Soviet Union who got here to the USA to proceed their careers throughout a interval of financial chaos in Russia, when cash for skating was scarce and a few rinks had been was purchasing malls and vehicle dealerships. Finally, Petrenko returned to Europe to teach and skate in ice reveals.
Within the small, close-knit world of elite determine skating, no less than one outstanding Russian coach, Tatiana Tarasova, got here to Petrenko’s protection for performing in Sochi. She instructed Tass, the Russian information company, that Petrenko was “among the finest folks I do know” and that “it’s ugly that he’s forbidden” to do his job.