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The father of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was seen posing with Pro-Putin supporters carrying the Russian flag at the Australian Open.
The father of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was seen posing with Pro-Putin supporters carrying the Russian flag at the Australian Open.

TENNIS

Djokovic’s father poses with pro-Putin supporters at Australian Open

The father of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was seen posing with Pro-Putin supporters carrying the Russian flag at the Australian Open.

A video surfaced on social media showing Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan posing with fans holding the Russian flag at the Australian Open on Wednesday night. Another video had come up earlier on social media showing a supporter holding a Russian flag with President Vladimir Putin on it at Rod Laver Arena. In the video with Djokovic’s father, Srdjan tells them, “long live Russian citizens”. This video has come up after some pro-Russian fans were evicted from the tournament.

Pro-Russian propaganda causing problems at Australian Open

Four men were thrown out of Melbourne Park on Wednesday night after chanting pro-Russian and pro-Putin slogans while holding up Russian flags, many of which had Putin’s face pictured on them. Before that, Srdjan had met with some of the supporters and had taken photos with a fan wearing a “Z” on his shirt. The letter “Z” has been used to identify the vehicles of Russian forces in Ukraine during the invasion and now some supporters wear it as a sign in favor of the war.

“Four people in the crowd leaving the stadium revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards,” Tennis Australia said in a statement. “Victoria Police intervened and are continuing to question them.”

In the video, Srdjan can be heard saying “zivjeli Russiyani” or “long live Russian citizens” just before he leaves. The man in the video, with whom Srdjan poses, wears a shirt with the logo of Russian motorbike gang, the Night Wolves. He starts the video with a message to the gang’s president, Alexander Zaldostanov, who is considered to be a close friend of Putin’s.

What are the rules regarding flags at the Australian Open?

Tennis Australia banned Russian and Belarusian flags at the Australian Open after an incident between Ukraine’s Katertna Baindl and Russian Kamilla Rakhimova occurred in the first round. After some fans with Russian and pro-Putin flags caused disruptions, Ukraine ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenk complained and the ban was set. Belarus is a staging ground for the war Russia inflicted in Ukraine, which Moscow is calling a “special operation”.

Last year at Wimbledon, Russian and Belarusian players were banned, but they are able to compete as individuals without national affiliation at the Australian Open. They do not have flags displayed by their names in any broadcasts and their country is not listed on the draw sheets.

Simeon Boikov runs the Aussie Cossack YouTube channel, which uploaded the video in question. He called on Putin supporters to attend the match and “strike back” at the organizers who banned the flags.

“Today Djokovic plays Andrey Rublev. I hereby appeal or instruct everyone to get down there. I can confirm that we’ve got some surprises,” Boikov said. “Tennis Australia, brace yourselves … for fans, for people who love tennis, if you know what I mean. I’ve got to word it that way or they’ll get me for incitement. We’ve got a lot of serious fans in Melbourne heading down.”

Boikov has been accused of assaulting a 76-year-old man at a Ukraine support rally in Sydney. After this week, he has a warrant out for his arrest and is seeking refuge at the Russian consulate.

“This is about honor and dignity now. This is an attack on honor and dignity. This has got nothing to do with the war,” Boikov said in the video. “This is an attack on freedom in Australia. This is discrimination. This is racism. It’s illegal to ban people’s flags.”

“The Russian empire has had its flag banned. Well, guess what, Tennis Australia? Good luck when the empire strikes back.”