March 24 - SportAccord International Convention President Marius Vizer has condemned the decision by the United States to place billionaire Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg, a member of its Executive Committee, on its sanctions list , calling it "bizarre" but offered him the organisation's full support.
As reported exclusively yesterday on insidethegames, Rotenberg still plans to travel to Turkey next month for the conference despite being classified on a list "Specially Designated Nationals" by the US Government,
He is one of 20 Russian businessmen who have been targeted by US President Barack Obama with close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin as retaliation for the annexation by Moscow of Crimea, an action widely condemned by the international community.
Rotenberg, a member of the International Judo Federation (IJF) Executive Committee and head of the International Judo Fund, which helps development projects around the world, is one of Russia's most influential businessman with a fortune estimated by Forbes at $4 billion (£2.5 billion/€3 billion).
Rotenberg, a former long-time judo sparring partner of Putin's, had been appointed to SportAccord International Convention Executive Committee last July by Vizer following his election as President of SportAccord.
"Arkady Rotenberg is a Council Member of SportAccord Convention due to his dedication and contribution to the world of sport throughout his life," a spokesman for SportAccord International Convention told insidethegames in a statement issued on behalf of Vizer, who is also head of the IJF.
"At the same time he is highly involved in ice hockey, football and other sports through actions that support and sustain sport from the youth to the professional level.
"He is successful in business and in sports.
"Besides sports, he supports also various social projects."
Vizer has also taken the opportunity to call upon Russia and Ukraine to solve their current problems by talking to each other and claimed the US should not have dragged Rotenberg into the dispute.
"The context where he [Rotenberg] becomes a victim of two major decisions which affect him seems very bizarre to us," said the statement issued on behalf of Vizer.
"The first decision belongs to the Parliament of Ukraine, who ratifies through the voice and power of the people a new Government in Ukraine, and the second decision represents the voice and the desire of the Crimean community who requested to adhere to the Russian Federation, a desire ratified by the Parliament of Russia.
"Mr Vizer believes that things should stop here and be simplified instead of being amplified.
"Finally, we are talking about two neighbouring countries, with common history, traditions and culture, who should solve their problems through direct dialogue.
"From the two decisions mentioned, one belonging to the Ukrainian Parliament, the other of the Russian Parliament, neither have any connection with the application of sanctions by the United States, against a private person, who does not have anything to do with the process and the political decisions that occurred between the two states at a certain point in time."
Vizer dismissed claims the US decision could stop Rotenberg attending the SportAccord International Convention, which is due to open in Belek/Antalya on April 6.
"According to our knowledge, there is no international legal framework where this decision can be placed," said the statement issued on behalf of Vizer.
"The SportAccord Convention team fully supports Mr Rotenberg and we all hope that this unpleasant situation will be soon settled."
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