In 2018, the athlete received Latvian citizenship: it is said that this was a mutual benefit – both for the authorities of the gymnastics federation and for the gymnast herself.
Because Latvia got a strong athlete in the ranks of the national team, and a representative of artistic gymnastics – an opportunity to perform at the highest level.
Allegedly, then, four years ago, Yelizaveta was promised that the athlete would never have problems in Latvia due to the Russian passport issued to her.
But on February 24, Russia launched a war against Ukraine, killing civilians, destroying cities and seeking to conquer an independent state.
Now the Russian propaganda is simply enjoying the role of the underdog – Latvia refused the athlete’s services, removed her from the list of the national team, which must appear at the world championship in September.
And the main reason for the controversy is that J. Polstianaja did not agree with the demand of the Latvian Olympic Committee to renounce Russian citizenship. The athlete announced that she will not do this, will not accept any ultimatums and will eventually return to Moscow permanently.
The athlete has already officially announced that after the scandal with her citizenship in Latvia, she is not going to continue her sports career in this country.
Explaining her statement in more detail, J.Plostianaja told the LETA agency that she received a letter with an ultimatum from the Olympic Committee.
She allegedly had to renounce her Russian citizenship and only then could she continue to represent Latvia. Failure to do so shall result in the athlete being removed from the team. She had until the end of August to make a decision, but she did not need that deadline – she remains loyal to Russia.
“After I announced on July 29 that I do not plan to renounce my Russian citizenship, I was excluded from the national team that will participate in the World Cup and the tournaments that will take place before it in San Marino and Romania.
My coach and I decided to stop our careers. As I already said, the reason for my exclusion from the national team is my Russian citizenship, which I cannot and do not want to give up.
The situation seemed like an insoluble problem. I was depressed and needed the support of my relatives, so I decided to return to Russia. My family is there, my friends are there, I felt happy all the time there – both playing sports and living,” the athlete wrote in her letter.
She also explained in the letter why she cannot continue to achieve sports heights under the Latvian flag.
“On May 18, 2022, the amendments to the law on athletes with Russian citizenship adopted by the Latvian Olympic Committee (LOC) prevent me from continuing towards my goal – to enter the national team and try to participate in the Olympic Games.
Throughout my sports career, my family fully financed my training and appearance in tournaments. Getting to the Latvian Olympic team allowed to partially remove a certain financial burden from it.
Losing LOK funding due to not wanting to lose my Russian passport was not the reason why I am withdrawing from Latvia.
It’s only because I won’t be allowed to participate in Olympic qualifiers in the future. Due to the aforementioned circumstances, the suspension of my sports activities and the negative situation, I no longer see the possibility of continuing my sports career in Latvia,” J. Polstianaja commented on his position in writing.
The Russian media is already enjoying the athlete’s return to Moscow, they claim that this treatment of the gymnast only shows the outbreak of Russophobia in the Baltic country and racial discrimination.
“Latvian media accused me of allegedly using the word “ultimatum” in connection with the Latvian Olympic Committee’s letter to me, which talks about the need to renounce the citizenship of another country.
I used that word, but it really made it clear that you either agree or you don’t.
The letter that was sent to me was in Latvian, so I first asked the secretary of the gymnastics federation to translate it, and then we did it ourselves.
It was clearly written that the Latvian Olympic Union – a union and not a committee, although the meaning remains the same – suspends cooperation with me for a month. The question is my Russian citizenship. And the necessity to abandon it.
This month must end at the end of August. If I had made a decision other than to return to Moscow, the cooperation would have resumed. But from their point of view, I made the wrong decision – there was an expectation of another option.
And the most unpleasant thing is that the people who saw this letter from the Olympic union, who communicated with me and saw the situation, are silent. Although they have the opportunity to tell the whole truth that I was forced to make a decision.
But in the last week, no one from Latvia wrote to me – neither from the federation, nor from the coaching staff. I was kind of “cut off”. She left, and that’s it,” the former Latvian athlete consoled the Russian r-sport portal.