Tennis player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has made one of the strongest statements of any Russian sports men and women to speak out against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, saying “personal ambitions or political motives cannot justify violence".
It is a brave comment from last year’s French Open runner-up, as it appears to directly criticise Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, rather than a plea simply to stop the war.
The military action in Russia’s neighbouring country is into day five and the United Nations claims more than 100 civilians have so far been killed in the conflict, including seven children, with over 300 injured.
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"I've been playing tennis since I was a kid. I have represented Russia all my life. This is my home and my country. But now I am in complete fear, as are my friends and family,” Pavlyuchenkova said on social media.
"But I am not afraid to clearly state my position. I am against war and violence. Personal ambitions or political motives cannot justify violence. This takes away the future not only from us, but also from our children.
"I am confused and do not know how to help in this situation. I'm just an athlete who plays tennis. I am not a politician, not a public figure, I have no experience in this. I can only publicly disagree with these decisions taken and openly talk about it. Stop the violence, stop the war."
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New world number one Daniil Medvedev has previously said he wants to “promote peace all over the world. We play in so many different countries. It's just not easy to hear all this news. I'm all for peace."
Andrey Rublev was visibly emotional when he spoke about the crisis while competing in Dubai, writing “no war please” on the camera after one of his matches.
"In these moments you realise that my match is not important,” said Rublev.
“It's not about my match [or] how it affects me because what's happening is much more terrible.
"You realise how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what and to be united. We should take care of our Earth and of each other."
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