Heroes and officials
A public letter of Novaya Gazeta Newspaper to foreign colleagues
This letter is addressed to journalists and editors of major world media. We know each other for a long time. We have been working together for many years. Our pieces often have been published in your media. So you know that our point of view on Russian politics is quite different from the official one. Novaya Gazeta won many international awards. This year we were awarded by you, our colleagues, the Golden Pen Freedom Prize established by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
All of this gives us a right to ask for your support for our Paralympic team.
Russia's entire Paralympic team is banned from the Rio Paralympics. That was said by the President of the International Paralympic Committee Philip Craven. The decision can be reviewed only in a court. If the verdict remains in force it will not hit the Russian authorities or specific perpetrators of anti-doping legislation.
This will hit absolutely innocent athletes, their relatives and friends, and everyone who see hope in the Paralympic Movement. This will be a hit to us, the journalists of Novaya Gazeta, because we are responsible for those whom we sincerely and actively help.
We realize that the purity of the Paralympic movement is exposed to many temptations – as much as the Olympic movement itself.
We realize that a race for medals could be held with violations, even with principal ones. Although the evidence base is not enough for sweeping conclusions and severity of punishment of the World Anti-Doping Agency commission under the guidance of Richard McLaren.
The International Olympic Committee admitted that clean athletes should not be responsible for the sins of some of their colleagues, and all the more so - for the sins of the state. A thought that clean Russian Paralympics athletes should be punished more than clean Russian athletes allowed for the Olympics is nonsense.
We personally know many Paralympic athletes, including the winners of the Paralympic Games. Most of them are people of exceptional courage, indomitable will and honesty. However, we assume that some dishonest athletes could appear among them. But this cannot become a reason for punishing all of the participants of the Russian Paralympic Team. We should take into consideration that for most of them sport is the only hope and joy. A loss of it will lead to many personal tragedies. Do you know why are Paralympic athletes are so important to Russia? If one of them settles down in a city, the whole district becomes wheelchair accessible. That’s how it works in Russia.
It’s also important that consequences of the ban are absolutely unpredictable. A thought that isolation of Russian Paralympians will change current Russian government is a utopia.
Sporting triumphs cannot be the main indicator of the country's greatness. It will take Russia long to understand this simple truth. But isolation will hardly accelerate the process. Particularly if the ban concerns the most vulnerable category of athletes.
We ask to allow Russian Paralympic Team to take part in the Rio Paralympics. Our petition is supported by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the shareholder of Novaya Gazeta Mikhail Gorbachev.