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Ukraine invasion: IJF removes Putin and judo training partner Rotenberg permanently from all positions

Russian President, Vladimir Putin and oligarch Arkady Rotenberg have been removed from all their positions at the International Judo Federation (IJF), it was announced today, as the fall-out from the invasion of Ukraine continues.

The IJF last week announced it had suspended Putin as its Honorary President following the unprovoked attack by Russia.

It has now taken a further step by removing him permanently.

Rotenberg, meanwhile, had been a member of the IJF’s Executive Committee as development manager, a role he had held since 2013.

Both have now been stripped of their positions and all trace of them removed from the IJF website.

“The International Judo Federation announces that Mr. Vladimir Putin and Mr. Arkady Rotenberg have been removed from all positions held in the International Judo Federation,” the world governing body said in a one-line statement tonight.

Putin had been appointed as Honorary President and ambassador in 2008 by the sport he is most passionate about.

In his role, he attended two IJF World Championships, at Chelyabinsk in 2014 and Budapest in 2017, as well as the judo tournament at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

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Last week, Putin had also been removed as Honorary President of the European Judo Union.

He is also listed as the first vice-president of the Russian Judo Federation, while brother Boris is also a vice-president.

Together with his brother Boris, Rotenberg was co-owner of the Stroygazmontazh, the largest construction company for gas pipelines and electrical power supply lines in Russia, and, according to Forbes, worth an estimated $2.5 billion (£1.9 billion/€2.3 billion).

On Thursday (March 3), the United States added him to its sanctions list “for being responsible for or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, activities that undermine the peace, security, political stability, or territorial integrity of the United States, its allies, or its partners”.

Boris Rotenberg had been placed on the United Kingdom sanctions list last month.

In preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, the Rotenberg brothers won contracts worth $7 billion (£5.3 billion/€6.4 billion), including a $2 billion (£1.5 billion/€1.8 billion) coastal highway and an underwater gas pipeline that came in at 300 per cent of average costs.

Earlier, IJF President Marius Vizer had pledged his sport’s support to Ukraine and had warned that the world governing body may take further action against Russia.

“The International Judo Federation deplores the war taking place in Ukraine and we are in complete solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” Vizer wrote in an open letter posted on the IJF website.

It has, like every other International Federation, removed its events from Russia and Belarus, including an IJF Grand Slam in Kazan, but will continue to allow athletes from those countries to continue to compete under a neutral banner.

Vizer warned the IJF will review the situation if the crisis worsens.

“All the Governments of the world are striving and hoping for successful negotiations that would allow to stop the violence against innocent people,” he wrote.

“In order to achieve this, we do not wish to add violence on top of violence, nor to be part of it under any form.

“For example, the President of the French Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron has a healthy stance on negotiations, and he has allowed a space for that.

“We are following this line of approach and should the situation require it, we will know how to take tougher measures.

“At present, understanding the fury that this invasion is provoking, we believe the most urgent thing to do is to help Ukrainian people and the world of judo is mobilised, numerous clubs are launching refugee welcome operations and material aid.

“We are engaging in this approach.”

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