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MOSCOW, September 8. /TASS/. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called a representative of Belarus who carried a Russian flag at the Paralympics opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro "a hero."
"Today we have a hero. This is a man who brought the Russian flag at the opening of the Paralympic Games in Rio showing solidarity with those who had been barred from the Rio Paralympics in a mean and inhuman way," Zakharova told reporters.
"I think we will find out his name," the diplomat added. "We are proud as there are such people, these are people who are out of politics." "Thanks a lot to our Belarusian friends, and especially to this person," she said. "Such things cannot be forgotten. This is a true human move."
During the parade of nations at the Maracana stadium at Wednesday night's opening ceremony, a member of the Belarusian team’s delegation carried the flag of Russia along with their national flag.
As promised when Russian athletes were all unjustly banned from #Paralympics #Belarus holds the #Russian flag high. pic.twitter.com/fYoMwVjDwF— Varyagi (@varyagi) 7 сентября 2016 г.
The head of the Belarusian Paralympic Committee, Oleg Shepel, later said this was done in "a gesture of solidarity" with the Russian team barred from the Games over the unconfirmed anti-doping rule violations, the Belta news agency reported.
On August 7, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) took a decision to bar the entire Russian Paralympic team from taking part in the 2016 Summer Paralympics. The ruling came on the heels of a report delivered earlier in the summer by the Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The commission, led by Canadian sports law professor Richard McLaren, claimed in particular that a total of 35 doping samples were concealed in the Russian Paralympic sports between 2012 and 2015. However, it turned out later that not all the stated cases of concealed doping samples concerned the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC). Nevertheless, the IPC decided on collectively punishing the Russian national team.
The RPC filed a lawsuit with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on August 15 in Lausanne against the IPC’s decision, but eight days later, the Swiss-based court ruled to uphold the ban slapped on the whole Russian Paralympic squad. In late August, the RPC submitted a motion with the Supreme Federal Court of Switzerland appealing the decision made earlier by the CAS. The motion was eventually rejected by the federal court.
The Paralympic Games are held in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro from September 7 to September 18.