Russian Karter Appears to Perform Nazi Salute on FIA Podium

Artem Severiukhin's apparent racist gesture comes while racing under an Italian flag, one month into a Russian invasion the nation claims is meant to "de-Nazify" Ukraine.

russia karting champ appears to show nazi salute
FIA

Russian karter Artem Severiukhin appeared to show a Nazi salute on the post-race podium after Sunday's round of the FIA Karting European Championship. Severiukhin, who finished fifth in last year's championship under a Russian flag, is racing under an Italian flag this year to skirt regulations on competition by Russian drivers during the nation's invasion of Ukraine.

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In a video widely shared on Twitter, Severiukhin, 15, is standing on the top of the podium as the Italian national anthem plays. He is then seen pounding his chest twice before displaying an open palm outstretched into the air in the style closely associated with the salute of the Nazi regime. Immediately after finishing the gesture, he laughs toward the crowd.

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The FIA announced Monday morning that it has begun an immediate investigation into Severiukhin's salute. It plans to communicate further action on the case "shortly."

In a strongly-worded statement shared to Instagram, karting team Ward Racing has announced that it sees "no possibility for continued cooperation" with Severiukhin. As a result, it plans to end their relationship immediately.

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In a quote that Motorsport attributes to a Russian automobile federation spokesperson, Severiukhin denies the intent of the salute, instead, he claims it was part of a family celebration. He does not explain how the gesture was part of this celebration. He then goes on to repeatedly stress that he "stands by" Russia, seemingly in flagrant denial of his choice to race under an Italian flag:

"I won the round of the European Championship and was very happy. I'm from Russia. I thanked the team and my relatives from Russia. Someone saw a bad gesture in my actions, but it's not. I just thanked them. I am Russian, I am from Russia and I stand by my country."

The salute comes over a month after Russia began a widespread invasion of Ukraine under the guise of "de-Nazification." Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, was elected with 73 percent of the vote in 2019.

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