By Alexey Sukachev
Boxing is a risky business and so is politics. Mixing them together can produce an explosive pack, which is twice as risky for all the participants taking part in a politicized event. One, who definitely loves to take risks, is a flamboyant Russian promoter Vladimir Hryunov. It seems Roy Jones Jr., a multi-time American champion and a beloved icon amongst casual boxing fans in Russia, is another one willing to put a lot at stake.
Yesterday in Yalta, Crimea, the former four-division world champion followed his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin with a written application to grant him Russian citizenship, a move which was supported personally by Putin.
On Sunday, Jones will be a specially honoured guest of a six-fight boxing event, which will take place in Crimea, under Vladimir Hryunov’s promotion.
Meanwhile, Crimea is a territory, which is highly disputed between Russia and Ukraine.
In mainland Russia, this peninsula is considered an integral part of the Russian Federation, based on an official referendum, conducted there the last year, as well as additional historical data. For the Kiev-based government (and for a vast majority of the foreign states) Crimea is occupied territory, which has been unlawfully annexed by Russia and its armed forces, and which belongs to Ukraine.
Reaction to the latest activity was predictable.
Today Anton Geraschenko, a member of the High Rada and a counselor for the Head of Internal Affairs, informed that Jones Jr. has been put into a black list of foreigners, labeled “The Peacemaker”, which enlists those whose activities presented signs of offense against national security of Ukraine.
Jones Jr. was accused of the illegal border crossing as a consequence of his latest voyage to Crimea. “The Peacemaker” is considered to be an unofficial list of state enemies in Ukraine.
No official war state is declared between Russia and Ukraine, but the relationship between the neighboring countries is at its lowest point in decades, if not centuries.
The Crimean conflict was followed by bloody warfare in Eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian armed forces and local militaries, which is really a conflict between a militia of locals back by the Russian government and illegal separatists by the Ukrainian government. Ukraine blames Russia for using their regular armed forces against its militaries in a hidden way, while the opposite side denies any notion of such possibility.