Sun, 04 Jun 2023

Artem Severiukhin made the gesture last month after victory at an event in Portugal

Artem Severiukhin, the teenage Russian karting driver who was subject to widespread criticism after being accused of performing a Nazi salute on the podium after a recent race, has been disqualified from the Portuguese round of the FIA European Karting Championship after stewards determined that his gesture was inflammatory.

The 15-year-old driver prompted international headlines after he beat his chest before appearing to perform the fascist gesture on the podium at the race in Portimao last month.

He has since apologized for the situation and denied that his gesture had any Nazi overtones whatsoever - though he was still dropped from his team Ward Racing and stripped of the Italian license under which he was competing due to sanctions against Russia.

However, Severiukhin has been stripped of his victory in the 'OK category' at the event after FIA officials found his actions to be "unacceptable and strongly reprehensible" after an investigation, while also stating that the gesture was in direct violation of a number of rules in the International Sporting Code.

"After hearing the entrant and the driver and check the video evidence, and even if the driver expressed his deep regret for his inappropriate gesture during the podium ceremony, the stewards consider this type of behavior unacceptable and strongly reprehensible and against all motorsport regulatory standards," the report read in part, as shared by the GP Fans website.

In their findings, the FIA also stated that Severiukhin's actions were "prejudicial to the interests... of motor sport generally."

They also determined that it breached another code, arguing: "Any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA."

The FIA also found that the gesture could be interpreted as a "public incitement to violence or hatred."

Speaking the following day after the video of the alleged Nazi salute went viral online, Severiukhin denied that his gesture was intended to be offensive.

"Standing on the podium, I made a gesture that many perceived as a Nazi salute. But it's not the case. I have never supported Nazism and consider it one of the worst crimes against humanity," he said in a video message.

"I raced under an Italian license and won the race under the Italian flag. And the guys in front of the podium showed me that in Italy, in such cases, it is customary to hit oneself on the chest in the region of the heart, expressing gratitude.

"I just wanted to make this gesture. How everything else happened I can't explain.

"I know I'm to blame, I know I messed up. And I'm ready to be punished.

"I just ask you to understand me - that in my actions there was no support for Nazism or fascism. There was no desire to offend the drivers, fans, the team, viewers of the broadcast. Forgive me, please."

That explanation was corroborated by people at the event, according to Russian motor-racing officials.


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