Russian sports presenter Dmitry Guberniev has been added to the list of “national security threats” by the Kiev authorities after praising the Russian language skills of Ukrainian football manager Andriy Shevchenko.
The newly updated list on the website of Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy now includes bombastic sports broadcaster Guberniev, who finds himself nestled alongside pop stars and other assorted names for supposedly undermining the nation’s safety.
Guberniev’s crime? Suggesting that the Russian language skills of Ukraine national team boss Shevchenko were a factor in the team’s historic run at this summer’s European Championships.
Football icon Shevchenko, 44, guided Ukraine to a first-ever quarter-final appearance at the Euros before his team fell to a 4-0 defeat to England in Rome at the weekend.
A proud Ukrainian, Shevchenko still gives interviews in Russian – which is his first language – and the same is true of a number of stars in the current team such as Oleksandr Zinchenko.
That was picked up on by Guberniev, who commented on his Telegram channel: “Oh, great and mighty Russian language!
“In which the famous Ukrainian footballer and trainer Andriy Shevchenko gives instructions! [In which] Oleksandr Zinchenko gives interviews! In beautiful Russian!
“Russian language is the creator of Ukrainian football success!”
Those words seem to have landed the Russian TV host in trouble with the Kiev authorities, as Guberniev was added to the updated list of national security threats shortly after posting them.
Guberniev, 46, responded to the news by wondering if the Ukrainian authorities had been drinking.
“The whole world knows how I support Ukrainian sportsmen and women,” he added.
“In every report! The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture – it’s you idiots who are creating a threat to your own people. I spit in your faces!”
Despite his status as a national hero, former Ballon d’Or winner Shevchenko’s continued use of Russian has been a source of controversy in his homeland.
Likewise, players such as Zinchenko and Artem Dovbyk – the latter of whom was the hero in the last 16 victory against Sweden – have been derisively labeled “Muscovites” for giving interviews in Russian.
Earlier during Euro 2020, well-known author Larisa Nitsoi fumed that “Ukrainian heroes speak Ukrainian.”
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“Dovbyk. What, again? A Muscovite, again? Where in God’s name do these Martians come from?” she wrote on Facebook after the forward scored his late winner against Sweden.
Earlier this year, Shevchenko promised that he would make more effort to speak Ukrainian at press conferences.