Paralympic chief says will quit Games if Russia invades
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[March 07, 2014]
By Alexei Anishchuk
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) — Ukraine's
Paralympic chief, Valeriy Sushkevich, said on Friday his team would quit
the Winter Paralympic Games if Russia invaded his home country, and that
he hoped the competition would be able to spread peace instead.
Russia is holding the Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi at a
time when it is being criticizes for its actions in Ukraine's
southern region of Crimea, where the West blames Russia for seizing
military and government institutions.
Moscow says the armed men in Crimea are members of local
self-defense units. While Putin says he has the right to send in
troops to defend Russian compatriots there but that so far he sees
no need to do so.
"If there is an escalation of the conflict, intervention on the
territory of our country, God forbid the worst, we would not be able
to stay here, we would go," Sushkevich told a news conference.
Many countries have cancelled plans to send government ministers and
members of royal families to the Games because of events in Crimea,
where the parliament has voted to join Russia and hold a referendum
on its status on March 16.
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Sushkevich said he had a "calm and reserved" conversation with
"I repeated my one request, the one and most important request, that
before and during (the Games) there will be peace," he said, adding
that the Russian leader answered that he would think about his
"The Ukrainian team, as well as hoping for good results, came with
colossal hopes for peace, peace in our country, in Europe, in the
world. I am sure .. that the majority is aware of the colossal
danger to peace and the right of every person to have peace in the
Putin told a news conference on Tuesday that any boycott of the
Paralympics over Ukraine would be "the height of cynicism".
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; writing by Elizabeth Piper)
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