Kuliak says he would show support for Russia again

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March 8 (Reuters) - Russian artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak said on Tuesday he had no regrets after displaying a symbol of support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine during an event and that he would always stand for peace.

The 20-year-old, who is facing disciplinary action from the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), finished third in the parallel bars final at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha over the weekend.

He displayed the letter "Z" on the front of his outfit as he stood on the podium next to Ukrainian rival Illia Kovtun, who won the gold.

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Russian forces have used the letter Z as an identifying symbol on their vehicles in Ukraine following Moscow's invasion of its neighbour. Some supporters of the invasion have also been displaying the symbol.

"If there was a second chance and I would again have to choose whether to go out with the letter Z on my chest or not, I would do exactly the same," Kuliak told Russian state-owned television network Russia Today.

"I saw it with our military and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out (it means), 'for victory' and 'for peace'. I didn't wish anything bad on anyone, I just showed my position. As an athlete, I will always fight for victory and stand for peace."

The FIG said it will open disciplinary proceedings against Kuliak for his "shocking behaviour". read more

The FIG has already cancelled all of its events in Russia and Belarus adding that it would not allocate other events to the two countries until further notice.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation" designed not to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbour's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

Belarus has been a key staging area for Russian forces.

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Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis

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