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Speaking to state sponsored Russian outlet RT in an interview out Tuesday, gymnast Ivan Kuliak, 20, painted himself as a victim and voiced support for Russian troops as they bombard civilian populations in a neighboring nation.

Speaking to state sponsored Russian outlet RT in an interview out Tuesday, gymnast Ivan Kuliak, 20, painted himself as a victim and voiced support for Russian troops as they bombard civilian populations in a neighboring nation. (Facebook)

(Tribune News Service) — The Russian athlete who wore an inflammatory letter “Z” on his leotard while receiving a medal alongside an athlete from Ukraine — which is being invaded by Russian forces — said he’d do it again.

Speaking to state sponsored Russian outlet RT in an interview out Tuesday, gymnast Ivan Kuliak, 20, painted himself as a victim and voiced support for Russian troops as they bombard civilian populations in a neighboring nation.

“If there was a second chance and I would again have to choose whether to go out with the letter ‘Z’ on my chest or not, I would do exactly the same,” Kuliak reportedly said.

Russian forces invading Ukraine have emblazoned the “Z” symbol on their armored vehicles, likely to help distinguish their war machines from vehicles belonging to Ukraine. There is no letter Z in the Cyrillic Russian alphabet.

“I saw it with our military and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out (it means), ‘for victory’ and ‘for peace’,” Kuliak claimed. “I didn’t wish anything bad on anyone, I just showed my position.”

Russian state media has avoided using terms that paint the unprovoked attack by their president, Vladimir Putin, as an act of war. The Russian leader has told his nation that Ukraine, which has a Jewish president, is being controlled by “drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”

Disinformation from outlets including RT has been blocked from social media platforms outside Russia.

According to Kuliak — who won a bronze medal in last week’s competition, where his Ukrainian counterpart won gold — Russian athletes were made to feel uncomfortable at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Qatar.

“Their behavior at some points was completely unacceptable,” Kuliak reportedly charged. “During performances they would shout ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ or go out on the podium wrapped in the national flag while we were considered neutral athletes, and because of this we felt uncomfortable.”

Kuliak finds it unfortunate that Russian athletes are being almost universally banned from competition and hopes to be a part of the international community again soon.

©2022 New York Daily News.

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