Plushenko Plans to Quit Politics, Focus on Sport
Published: March 5, 2010 (Issue # 1553)
Yevgeny Plushenko is leaving politics.
“I’m seriously considering giving up my seat in the city parliament and going back to sports, simply because I am quite good at it,” the Russian figure skater, who won the Olympic gold in Turin in 2006 and skated to the Olympic silver medal in Vancouver, told reporters at Pulkovo airport on returning to St. Petersburg from what has been described as Russia’s most disappointing Olympics in history.
The St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, where Plushenko has a seat representing the Just Russia faction, has shown understanding for the sportsman. Oleg Nilov, head of the Just Russia faction in the St. Petersburg assembly, said that the skater “must devote himself to a very special mission — he must save Russia’s deteriorating sports from further degradation.”
“Considering Russia’s rather, to say the least, uncharacteristic performance at the recent Winter Olympics, Yevgeny Plushenko, as a truly outstanding sportsman and one of the ambassadors of the Sochi-2014 Winter Olympic Games, may be required to fully dedicate himself to sports,” Nilov said.
Vadim Tyulpanov, speaker of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, said the parliament would petition the Russian authorities to award Plushenko with an Order of Service to the Fatherland.
“We will definitely recommend Yevgeny for the prestigious award; his achievement is heroic, and he fully deserves the order,” Tyulpanov said.
The order may not be the only addition to Plushenko’s Vancouver silver.
Twenty-six grams of gold have already been collected for a gold medal for the St. Petersburg figure, whose local fans have launched a campaign aimed at collecting gold and producing a “people’s medal” for their favorite.
Plushenko’s hopes of winning a second Olympic gold were dashed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics when he lost to Evan Lysacek of the United States and Russia’s sports officials refused to back his appeal against what the sportsman called “unfair judging.” His supporters in St. Petersburg were quick to offer their own solution —a medal made of real gold to be presented to the skater by his many Russian admirers.
Dmitry Ilkovsky, chairman of the city’s Petrovsky municipal district and one of the leaders of the people’s medal campaign, is proud of the fact that the Russian people’s medal will contain more gold than the Olympic medal.
“The ‘people’s medal’ will weigh 516 grams — exactly the same as a real Olympic medal, but the proportion of gold in it will be much higher,” Ilkovsky said. “The Olympic gold medal has 510 grams of silver and only 6 grams of galvanic gold, whereas ours will have a substantial amount of gold in it, or it might even end up being made entirely of gold.”
Ilkovsky said there is no shortage of fans willing to part with their gold rings, earrings and chains. “I am getting phone calls all the time,” he said, adding that he expects “hundreds of people to take part in the initiative.”
Ilkovsky has already been in touch with jewelers in Yakutia and with St. Petersburg designers who are creating various designs for the medal.
Three different medals have already been designed, with one of them featuring diamond decorations. The designs will be put on the Internet on Plushenko’s fan page on the Vkontakte.ru social networking site, where members will be able to discuss the designs and vote for their favorite.
Plushenko, who has made critical statements questioning the victory of Eva Lysacek, whose performance he branded “mere dancing,” and criticized the Russian authorities for not standing up for the interests of the country’s sportsmen, has not yet commented on the “people’s medal” and the collection of gold for its creation.