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V.Sushkevych: I'm praying to God so that the Paralympic Games help us keep the peace in Europe Надіслати електронною поштою
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V.Sushkevych: “I'm praying to God so that the Paralympic Games help us keep the peace in Europe, in the world and in my home country of the Ukraine”


Friday, 07 March 2014 - 18:38

SOCHI - Comments by Valeriy SUSHKEVYCH (UKR), Ukraine Paralympic Committee president, and Grygorii VOVCHYNSKYI (UKR), dual silver and dual bronze medalist at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, at a press conference at the Main Press Centre on Friday. 



 Valeriy SUSHKEVYCH (UKR) - Ukraine Paralympic Committee president



"We are staying here in order to be remembered as ... a unified independent sovereign state sending its national team to participate in the Paralympic Games."



"This state (Ukraine) is recognized as having the best system of Paralympic sports and development. We have minimal sponsorship in the team. The major source of funding is the people, the state, the country that sent us here to display and to achieve national results."



On whether the team will leave Sochi if there is any escalation in tensions with Russia:


"I am very much afraid that despite a striving for peace, during the Paralympic Games we will see something which could not be rectified. Should this happen, we will leave the 11th Paralympic Games in Russia, in Sochi, at the very second."




"I hope very much that my message has been heard both by the sports community and my Russian colleagues. I hope very much that I've been heard by the president of Russia."



"In the history of the Paralympic and the Olympic movement, I cannot think of a single occasion when an organising host country would start an intervention [into another country] during the Paralympic Games, intervening in the territory of a country that is a participant of the Games."



"I really hope that we can keep peace during the Paralympic Games. It is not politics, it is peace, it's peace for everybody."



"I'm praying to God so that the Paralympic Games help us keep the peace in Europe, in the world and in my home country of the Ukraine."



"I would like to emphasize it is not politics, it is human rights, and it is my desire as a Ukrainian citizen to have a peaceful life. The Paralympic movement, as the highest achievement of humankind, can and should contribute to the development and keeping of peace."



"I would like you to understand properly the position of the Paralympic team, the desire of our team to participate in the Paralympic Games that this desire is not compatible with the fact of remaining uninterested in what is happening in the Ukraine and not paying attention to what is happening in our country."



"We have taken the decision to raise the flag of the independent sovereign state of Ukraine here at the Paralympic Games. We raise the flag for peace, I would like to emphasize."



"I truly hope that our strongest desire under the democratic conditions and protection of human rights - and mainly the human right to peace - will be heard. Yesterday after the flag-raising ceremony, the Ukraine national team had a single desire to participate in the destiny of our country, in the destiny of the Paralympic movement and the unification of all the human values in the Paralympic Games here in Sochi."




On his meeting with Russian president Vladimir PUTIN:
"Last night (Thursday) I had the opportunity to meet Vladimir Putin. I had a conversation with Mr. Putin for about half an hour."




"I reiterated to Mr. Putin that before and during the Paralympic Games we would have peace and that significant steps be made in order to have the Paralympic Games support the rights of human beings."



"I am not and was not talking about any kind of political options, be it the language, the political system in the Ukraine. I was talking to the president of Russia as an envoy of the national Paralympic team of Ukraine."



"I hope for the support of the global community and the common sense of political leaders. My hopes lie with our Paralympic family."



"When I met Mr. Putin and we had a talk, I did not receive any guarantees, we just had a conversation."



"It was important for me that he gave me an opportunity to talk to him. It was important he listened to what I had to say. We had a polite, extremely respectful talk on the situation. Our conversation was very calm, very carefully thought out."



"It is important the president heard my wishes - not as a political subject, he received me as the president of the national Paralympic committee of Ukraine and this was the context of our conversation. Anything which has to do with guarantees as to what might happen and might not happen was not part of the conversation."



"The president said the following: 'We will consider your proposals, we will think about that and you will know about our decision'."



On what is happening in Ukraine:



"Take any representative of a country here, including representatives of the Russian team and tell them that in the territory of your country, foreign military will come with good intentions to protect whoever from whatever."



"I've been here for three days and I watch TV and I am shocked, astonished about what is being said on TV. To put it mildly, this is not the truth, unfortunately. I would hate to develop this topic because it has less relevance for the Paralympic team and I would not like to turn this press conference into things to do with political issues in this situation we see now."



"In order to find out what is happening in Ukraine, one should physically go there and see with one's own eyes. The fact that UN officials were not allowed there speaks a lot; the representative of the UN was not allowed to come in."



On the Ukraine flag-raising ceremony at the athletes' village:



"Yesterday, my colleagues, my team, my athletes, our athletes and coaches as well as physicians and managers, they all went past the Paralympic village and they were screaming 'peace for Ukraine'. Volunteers who were standing at the side and people who were at the village and just the passersby were screaming with us, shouting the very same phrase, 'peace for Ukraine'."




"There was not a single person who could not join us. Everybody could understand we were begging and hoping for peace for Ukraine."



"Yesterday one of the athletes expressed his desire to be here with peace, to remind the world community and everybody who is not aware of this fact, that people without legs, people without arms and without limbs, people with visual impairment, people in wheelchairs, Paralympians from any country, are working for peace and the absolute minimum that we have to do is keep that peace at least during the Paralympic Games."



On what the Ukraine team will do at the opening ceremony:



"I believe the Olympics or Paralympics is not the right place to do politics. All this should remain separate from sporting activity."




"I would like to state it here publicly, and the representatives of the IPC should also know, that at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games, there will be no kind of political message expressed."



"As for the athletes' parade, we will have a special format and it will be a very restricted format."



"I assure you that the Ukrainian Paralympic team will do everything possible in order to compete in the spirit of fair play and keep peace with everybody."



On the decision to stay in Sochi being a team decision, with no government pressure:



"We've taken the decision. We had three team meetings and before that we had a meeting of the national Paralympic committee of Ukraine. The council of the national Paralympic committee did not take any decision, [they said] you have to go to Sochi and take the decision there."




"The acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr TURCHYNOV (UKR), and the government of Ukraine as well as the parliament of Ukraine, do not apply any kind of pressure whatsoever, or impact on our decision. The degree and level of democracy in Ukraine is extremely high now."



"(Social media) is saying if you leave and don't participate, in two hours everyone will forget you. If you stay there representing the country, you think about getting good results for Ukraine. You need peace in the country and there is a need to stop everything connected with military action. We have to stay here to remind everybody of peace."



Grygorii VOVCHYNSKYI (UKR) - cross country and biathlon dual medallist, Vancouver 2010



On the team decision to remain in Sochi:



"There is nothing more precious to us than the life of a human being and freedom, the ability to feel complete. I've recently said that Paralympians are one big family."




"If you ask me whether we are ready to compete, with the strongest desire, yes we are here; we are here to represent a very young country. We are 22 years old. We are ready to fight for Ukraine. We are strong, free and independent people. We are here to demonstrate how we can love life, sport and fair competition in all respects."




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