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Russian Racer Competing Under Italian Flag Gave Nazi Salute on Podium

A Russian race car driver attracted international notice in April 2022 after apparently demonstrating a Nazi salute on stage following a race, then laughing:

On Reddit, a still image of Severyukhin was posted to r/byebyejob:

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Russian driver who raced under Italian flag due to sanctions threw a Nazi salute on podium yesterday, today his contract is immediately terminated by the team from byebyejob

A more widely viewed version of the story was shared to Reddit’s r/PublicFreakout, with a lengthier and more descriptive title:

The racer from the Russian Federation celebrated his victory at the European Karting Championships with a Nazi salute. Artyom Severyukhin won the first stage of the junior tournament, which took place in Portugal. At the same time, Severyukhin is playing under the Italian flag to avoid sanctions from PublicFreakout

It read:

The racer from the Russian Federation celebrated his victory at the European Karting Championships with a Nazi salute. Artyom Severyukhin won the first stage of the junior tournament, which took place in Portugal. At the same time, Severyukhin is playing under the Italian flag to avoid sanctions[.]

Although a video did appear alongside the post to r/PublicFreakout, no news stories or additional information was linked. On April 11 2022, Reuters provided background details about the incident:

Video footage showed the youngster, racing under an Italian flag due to sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, tapping his chest with a clenched fist before raising his right arm in salute and then laughing.

[…]

The [International Automobile Federation] FIA announced [in March 2022 that] it would continue to allow Russian drivers to take part in its competitions but not under the country’s flag as no Russian symbols or colours can be displayed.

That same date, motorsport site RaceFans.com reported:

Severiukhin won the opening round of the FIA Karting European Championship OK category on Sunday [April 10 2022]. Russian competitors are restricted from taking part in FIA events and Severiukhin was racing under the Italian flag.

During the performance of the Italian national anthem on the podium, Severiukhin struck his chest twice with his right hand, then extended his arm in front of him.

Sky Sports carried an April 11 2022 statement from the FIA on the incident in response to its virality on social media:

“The FIA confirms it has launched an immediate investigation into the unacceptable conduct of Mr Artem Severiukhin that occurred during the podium ceremony for the OK category at Round 1 of the 2022 FIA Karting European Championship at Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal,” read a statement on Monday [April 11 2022].

“The FIA will communicate shortly on the further steps that will be taken in this case.”

Privately owned Swedish team Ward Racing issued a statement via Instagram, condemning the gesture and indicating Severyukhin’s contract had been terminated immediately:

The actions of Artem Severyukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 were exclusively individual and do not represent the views and values of Ward Racing in any manner. On the contrary, Ward Racing stands with the international community condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and expresses its solidarity with the people suffering because of this unprovoked and horrific attack.

Ward Racing accordingly condemns the personal actions of pilot Artem Severyukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 in the strongest possible terms, as it considers them a manifestation of unsportsmanlike behaviour, an unacceptable violation of the ethical and moral sports codex.

With this statement, Ward Racing expresses its opinion, as well as the opinion of all athletes and staff of the Ward Racing team. On the basis of these considerations, Ward Racing sees no possibility for continued cooperation with Artem Severyukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract.

Motorsport.com included comment from Severyukhin in their coverage of the controversy, who denied that his raised arm (followed by a giggle) was a Nazi salute:

Severiukhin himself has denied, however, that he gave a Nazi salute and instead said he was simply celebrating with his friends and family, who were standing opposite the podium.

“I would like to address everyone about yesterday’s situation on the podium,” he was quoted as saying by a Russian automobile federation spokesperson. “I won the round of the European Championship and was very happy.

“I’m from Russia. I thanked the team and my relatives from Russia. Someone saw a bad gesture in my actions, but it’s not. I just thanked them. I am Russian, I am from Russia and I stand by my country.”

On April 10 2022, Russian junior racer Artyom Severyukhin performed what appeared to be a Nazi salute on a podium after winning his first race of the season. Severyukhin later denied that he gave a Nazi salute. The International Automobile Federation issued a statement pledging “further steps,” and private racing team Ward Racing both condemned Severyukhin’s actions and terminated his contract immediately.