Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lidiya Ivanova trashes Grishina and Korbut

If you don't know who Lidiya Ivanova is or you only know her as a gymnast, you're lucky.
We, Russian speakers, have been subjected to her commentary of almost all gymnastics meets that are televised in Russia. She's a horrible commentator. She can never remember any facts about gymnasts, she always mixes up their names and makes up stuff about them. She can't even tell who is who about Russian gymnasts - often you see one gymnast compete, but she thinks it's someone else. She also likes to say nasty things about gymnasts, especially about non-Russian gymnasts - their appearance, their weight (her favorite topic), how horrible is their technique (only Russians have good technique) and how Russians are always unfairly judged. You get the picture.
She also has opinions and likes to share them so she comes to all the talk shows and gives a million interviews.
She's clearly irrelevant in the eyes of knowledgeable gym fans, but, unfortunately, general public doesn't know that and may see her as a gymnastics expert.
Ivanova was on the talk show about Grishina last week. I haven't watched this specific talk show because I was told it's absolutely horrible and Ivanova played a part in making it horrible.
However, she, apparently, has more things to say.
Today, AiF (an influential Russian paper) published an interview with her in which she talks about Grishina and Korbut. Why are they paired? Because when Korbut was selling her medals recently, Russian press gave it a pretty nasty coverage, so, these two gymnasts are similar in the fact that recently people have been talking about their money problems instead of  their athletic achievements.
I translated the part about Grishina. If you want me to translate the part about Korbut as well, leave a comment.

Destitution or Fraud? Why people discuss Grishina’s and Korbut’s money instead of their wins.

Anastasia Grishina, silver Olympic medalist from London 2012, told the story of how her own mother stole from her. Legendary Olga Korbut sold her medals.

AiF and Lidiya Ivanova (2-times Olympic champion, coach and commentator) tried to understand how these two ended up like this.

by Lidiya Ivanova

I’ll start with telling you about Nastia. Before the London Olympics she was put on the national team as a very promising athlete. Grishina competed quite badly in London. Nastia’s mistakes were exactly the reason our team ended up second in the team final. But despite her mistakes, despite the lost gold medal, Nastia got all the honors – car, money prizes ( 5 million rubles).
There was no further development in her career. She left the national team, continued to train for a while, but didn’t have any significant achievements. At the same time, because of how Russian sport is funded, she was paid a lot of money. So, now Grishina is telling how her relatives spent the 20 million rubles she earned. But people aren’t feeling compassionate towards her, they’re wondering – how a 21-year old is able to earn that much money? For what?
I saw how Nastia and her mom were inseparable. Her mommy went with her to all the training camps, to competitions, she roomed with her daughter at the Round Lake, even though it’s prohibited. I have to admit, her mother invested a lot in Nastia’s achievement. Only recently they had great relationship. And now her mother takes everything from her, betrays her. That’s nonsense! The only possible explanation would be Nastia’s marriage, meaning, her family lost their main earner. And she has a big family – three brothers who, as I understand, aren’t working. But I don’t quite believe this explanation. Could it be that the marriage ruined her relationship with her mother or is she plotting some sort of a fraud?
Poor Nastia. Because of her age she couldn’t manage her finances. Her family did that and they bought apartments with her money. As it turns out, Nastia herself was registered in a communal apartment, I again don’t understand why wouldn’t she register in one of these new apartments? Her answer is that it was cynical calculation – they hoped that the state would take pity on the athlete living in a communal apartment and solve this issue.

And, again, this ugly story was made public by Nastia’s efforts. She gives interviews, talks about being hurt and offended. Even though she could simply hire lawyers and solve everything in court without dragging in the public. I can’t stop thinking that she’s trying to make people pity her so that the country will give her something more. But, I think, that the country already gave Nastia too much.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Grishina's story - videos

Several major tv channels did short news segments on Grishina's story. In addition, NTV made an hour-long special.
Here are the links to the videos. I didn't do full summaries for each one, since they mainly repeat the same things we read in the interview. I'm only adding new information that was said in the videos.

Russia24 channel:
They say Nastia's mom isn't talking to the jorunalists and isn't answering the door. Several news programs actually made videos of the door of Grishina's parents' apartment, in one even Grishina and her husband stood near the door and then tried to open it (weird).
In this video the journalists are talking to the neighbors. One neighbor says one of Nastia's brothers is a drug addict and another went to jail three times, so the neighbors are trying to stay clear of the family because they're afraid.
Nastia refuses to let journalists into the apartment she rents - says the apartment is too small and doesn't even have a kitchen.
Andrey Rodionenko on the phone says Grishina isn't on the national team and isn't training anymore (duh!).
A lawyer says the situation is legally complicated, but it might be possible to prove that Nastia didn't understand what's happening with the money and didn't agree to give it to her parents.
Then a football player tells of a similar story with his parents.

NTV (short news segment):
In this one Grishina and her husband are standing awkwardly by the parents' apartment.
Her lawyer also appears and talks about the case a bit, saying they have enough proof  of embezzlement to win the case.

1st channel:
Grishina repeats some moments of her story, her lawyer appears here, too. They show a personal VK page of Grishina's mom where she sold merch with Nastia's photos and autographs - mugs, fridge magnets etc.
Then they talk to Olga Sikkora - Nastia's first coach. Olga is really unhappy with both Nastia and her mom, she says that Nastia's mom was always thinking only about money. She then says that she expected Nastia to share some prize money from London with her, but I really don't understand why - she wasn't Nastia's Olympic coach. She says Nastia never thanked her and never gave gifts. It's pretty normal in Russia to give gifts to your coach, it wouldn't be considered a bribe or something, but, again, she hasn't been Nastia's coach for a long time, so I don't really understand why she's offended here.

And now the hour-long special on NTV:
Here it looks like they're filming  the beginning of the show in Grishina's rented apartment - so, I guess, she lets some journalists in.
Nastia said she was against her parents buying the dacha, since she never wanted to live there, but they didn't care about her opinion.
The show some shots from Nastia's wedding.
Nastia looks really sad, almost on the verge of crying and says she can't understand how money are more important to her mom than she is.
Nastia shows her Olympic silver medal and says that she will never give the medal away, at least she has this.
She filed two separate lawsuits against her mom - one for money and one for the property. She hopes the property will be arrested by the court soon, because she's afraid her mom will sell everything and spend the money before the cases are decided.
Then they make Nastia come into the studio and tell her story again in front of the people and the "experts" panel (even though they've already told her story before). Nastia is half-crying and her voice is trmbling, and the whole thing is extremely uncomfortable. I guess, the show is pretty trashy (I've never watched it before) and looks like it's their standard format.
Nastia says going to the press and talking about this thing publicly is extremely hard for her.
She thought she earned about 10 million rubles, so when she found out it was more than twice that, she was extremely surprised.
Her parents bought the dacha even before the Olympics - it was a small piece of land with a house that was only suitable for summer weather. They then renovated the house and adapted it for winter. She says here again that she never wanted to buy the dacha, it was her parents' decision, no one cared for her opinion even though it was her money. She says they used to own another dacha before, but further from Moscow, and the parents sold that dacha because they couldn't go there often with all Nastia's gym training. So, now they decided they deserve a new dacha for all their trouble. Then they also bought a room in a communal apartment, a studio apartment in Moscow's suburbs (which was originally meant for Nastia and her husband after the wedding) and a car for her father. None of it is in Nastia's name.
Her mom made her sign a prenup so that the husband wouldn't have any claim to Nastia's money. Mom always said that her husband is a gold-digger.
Only one of Nastia's brothers work. Apparently, two other brothers and her parents lived on her money.
Nastia says mom told her she's entitled to Nastia's money for all the time she spent on Nastia during the gymnastics career.
Nastia talks about her parents in a very respectful manner, she says she's grateful for all their sacrifices and that she had a normal childhood  and she loved them and never suspected that they could betray her.
She says they had great relationship before the Olympics. She thinks that all the huge amounts of prize money after the Olympics clouded her parents' judgement.
Then Nastia tells about her second injury (she doesn't specify when it was - I think it was about 2 years after the Olympics) - how she got injured a day before a competition and din't want to compete, but her mom made her. If Nastia didn't compete, she'd lose her national team salary - she didn't compete for a full year before that.
Nastia says her whole family hates her now.
Her mom was very unhappy when Nastia got pregnant because it meant the end of the competitive career (and money). Mom reluctantly babysat her son for a while, because Nastia wanted to resume training.
Nastia actually says that she wants to return to gymnastics and will try to do it. She was training in the Fall (not sure if she's currently training).
Her brother (the one who threatened to stab her), apparently, also tried to stab people at her wedding and they had to call the police. Later Nastia's husband spills that this brother was in jail, but they don't want to talk about any details - for how long, for what etc.
Ekaterina Baturina comes into the studio and tells that she's shocked about the whole story. She is then asked how her money was managed during her gymnastics career. Baturina tells that her mom managed the money and that later she bought an apartment with that money.

Nastia's mom, apparently, rents the studio apartment that was bought with Nastia's money to some strangers for 25,000 rubles per month  (while Nastia lives in a rented apartment).

Nastia's hubby took her last name! He's Grishin now. His former last name was Kozel (which means "male goat" and is a curseword in Russian), so I guess that was the real reason he changed it.

Nastia says she has no idea where's the rest of the money (besides what was spent on buying property). She thinks her mom didn't spend all of it, just hid it somewhere.

Nastia's family don't know her current address, because she's afraid of them.
They show the apartment then and it's not actually an apartment - it's sort of a motel room or rather two rooms (bedroom and living room) and there's no kitchen or fridge. Often the water doesn't run so they can't shower. They mostly eat at their friends or out, because they can't prepare any food in their room. They can't afford to rent anything better at the moment.
Nastia took her medals with her, but the cups stayed at the parents' apartment and her mom doesn't let her take them. Nastia can't go to the apartment and take the rest of her stuff either because her mom changed the locks.

Nastia's friend tells about the time when Nastia had a knee surgery and spent two weeks at a hospital. Mom visited Nastia only once and didn't even bring food (food in Russian hospitals is usually terrible, so it's customary for family and friends to bring something better to eat to the patients). No one came to take Nastia from the hospital and she had to drive herself home even though she was on crutches and in a lot of pain.

The neighbors of Nastia's parents say that her mom had problems with alcohol. They say Nastia's brother was in jail for robberies.

Zelikson calls and says that Nastia's mom was always super controlling. The host asks whether Nastia could be lying about the whole situation. Zelikson says she could be and that he doubts that Nastia ever earned that much money. I guess, if Nastia returns to training, she won't go back to him after that. He thinks Nastia could become a good coach and he offers to help her with that.

Nastia is a fourth-year sports journalism student at the Moscow State University (the degree takes 5 years in Russia). She has good grades. She says her mom was against paying for college. If Nastia went to another college to become a gymnastics coach, like almost all Russian gymnasts do, she would study for free, so, I guess, her mom wasn't happy with the idea of paying for Nastia's degree (MSU is a very expensive university, since it's very prestigious). Nastia's mom paid for the current semester in February (which was after Nastia filed the case in court) - with Nastia's money, I think, since the parents are not employed.

Nastia's lawyer comes. This time it's a man (unlike other videos where there was a woman), so, it seems, she has two lawyers. He says that Nastia's mom could go to jail for up to 10 years because the case will be tried in the criminal court. He says the sum of 22 million  - Nastia's earnings throughout her career - is documented in the bank accounts history, they have all the proof.

He says Victor (Nastya's hubby) now works three jobs in order to pay off their debt (for renovations and legal fees) and feed Nastia and the baby.

People in the studio get agitated when they hear that Nastia's mom might be facing jail time and start yelling at Nastia. They think that jail time is too extreme and Nastia must stop pursuing the criminal case.
The lawyer says that they're ok with dropping the case as long as Nastia's mom giver the property to Nastia voluntarily.

When asked if Nastia's ok with her mom possible going to jail, Nastia says she doesn't want this outcome, she would prefer to avoid it.

An expert lawyer says that the criminal court will probably reject the case and that it'll have to be tried in the civil court.

Another hour-long special was done by the 1st channel. I haven't watched it yet. I'll see if there's anything new and, maybe, will add a summary for it in a couple of days.

Russian names - pronunciation

I know that Russian names are hard for non-native speakers to pronounce. Especially, when they try to read the names written in Latin letters. Russian, as you know, is written in Cyrillic alphabet and many Russian sounds simply can't be adequately expressed by Latin alphabet, because there are not enough letters. Russian alphabet has 33 letters versus 26 letters in English. In addition, one letter can represent several different Russian sounds depending on the position in the word, so you can see how it's tricky to write Russian names in English.
My first name - Liubov (Любовь means "love" in Russian) - gets butchered by non-native speakers all the time. Hebrew speakers often read it as LiObob, while English speakers have hard time pronouncing ю  and вь.
Sometimes, when English-speaking gymnerds talk about Russian gymnasts I have hard time understanding who they mean because the names become unrecognizable. Announcers at international competitions don't help much because they rarely pronounce the names correctly. Although, at the 2016 Euros at Bern they had a Russian speaker announcing Russian gymnasts, so that was pretty cool.

So, I decided to make recordings of the first and last names of Russian gymnasts (and also gymnasts of Russian origin who compete for other countries like Shatilov or Chusovitina).
It would be great to have a database where people could just click on a name and hear the pronunciation like on the UCLA website, but this platform, unfortunately, doesn't allow it.
So, for now, I recorded individual audio files for each gymnast and uploaded them to a public folder on You can listen online or you can download the files. If anyone can think of a better solution, let me know.
Since recording takes time, I will do it in parts. Today I made recordings for each female senior gymnast on the current national team and some extras (like Verniaev:).
I'll be adding juniors and men tomorrow.
If you have any specific names you want me to record, leave a comment.
Here's the link to the folder

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Grishina's story

So, in this post I'll talk about Grishina and post a translation of her interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda. That was the first and the longest interview that all the other sources picked up. She later gave a few additional interviews/comments. I In some articles Grishina contradicts things that she said in the first interview. However, it might be that she had little control over the first interview and Komsomolskaya Pravda is known to be sensationalist and to twist stories somewhat.
First, some background on the story and explanation of some Russian cultural realities that I feel are necessary to understand the story better.

Russian gymnasts, unlike Americans, are normally paid a salary when they're on the national team - even as minors. The salary depends on whether they're on the regular team or reserves and whether they won any medals the previous season. In addition, they are allowed to take prize money from competitions (such as American Cup), since Russia has no NCAA and athletes are expected to go pro. Athletes in Russia often come from disadvantaged backgrounds, since many sports clubs and schools are still either free or have low fees, especially when kids are show promise. For many of them, the money go towards feeding the whole family, so Grishina's story of how her whole family lived on her money is not unusual. It's just that normally kids have better relationships with their families and consciously want to help them out.

While Russian athletes rarely get big advertisement contracts, they can receive good money if they win medals at the Olympics - the federal government pays a handsome sum for every medal, then the regional government adds some, and there are normally some other material prizes such as cars.
Russians are pretty obsessed with owning property, even though the mortgage rates are crazy in the country. It might be because before USSR fell apart renting wasn't really that common (it was technically prohibited), so people are used to live in their own apartments (even though the government was technically the owner during USSR). People often live with their parents, several generation can live in one small apartment (so, here, too,  there's nothing uncommon in the fact that Grishina's mom lived with the couple). Grishina's from Moscow which is the most expensive Russian city to rent in or to buy an apartment. Many of my Moscow friends live with their parents well into their 30s trying to save on rent in order to buy property.
While it seems crazy to many Western people that Grishina at 21 is married and has a 8-month baby, it's actually also a pretty normal age  in Russia to get married and have kids.
Another comment: when the article talks about Grishina being "on the streets" or "thrown off to the street" it doesn't mean she's literally homeless. It's an expression in Russian that means someone lost the place they used to live in or they were thrown away from home, but it doesn't mean that they now don't have any place to live. It's sort of a poetic exaggeration. She actually rents an apartment. It's not an ideal situation and rents are sky high in Moscow, but she's not living on the streets, so don't worry about that.

Ok, so now to the interview.

The offices of Komsomolskaya Pravda received a letter from a famous athlete, silver Olympic medalist in London, a gymnast, Anastasiya Grishina. The young woman is asking for help and protection – and not from some stranger, but from her own family: father, mother and older brothers. “I am very ashamed, hurt and offended. I can’t believe someone close to me did this to me, that it was my own mother! She took all my money and property. Everything I earned during my gymnastics career. Even the car that I received as an Olympic champion from the Moscow mayor, Sobyanin. I don’t have anything left. So, now I’m left with a baby practically on the streets.”

A childhood earner
Silver medal. Heavy and respected. When you lift it, you can immediately feel how much work it took to earn such an honor. This medal is literally all that’s Nastia has left. She brought the medal to our office.
“Please, help me, I don’t know what to do!” – the young woman is crying.
Nastia is 21 years old. All she ever saw in her life – gym, training camps and competitions.
“I started gymnastics late by the sports standard – when I was 7. At first, I trained just for fun. Then the coaches noticed me, I started winning competitions, made the national team. I’ve been an elite athlete since 13 years old.”
In our country athletes receive a salary, even as young as she was. So, Nastia was earning money since her childhood.
“I never cared how much I earn. I knew that I had a salary from CSKA* and from the national team. After the Olympics I even received a car – Audi A7, and Sobyanin personally gave me a certificate for 2.5 million rubles. But I was a minor and my mom took care of all my bank accounts, and debit cards, and the cars, I trusted her completely. And what did I need money for? I was at camps all year round, they fed me, clothed me, and paid all the travel expenses. I didn’t go out. All I ever wanted was to own a place to live. Our family has four kids, I have three older brothers. We all lived in our two-bedroom apartment at Polezhaevskaya neighborhood. Several times I started talking to my mom about buying an apartment for me. But she didn’t hurry to buy it, she said: “you don’t need your own apartment, it would be better if you were registered in a communal apartment**, then the state would give you an apartment for your achievements”

*her club
**communal apartments – a legacy of the Soviet times. Several people, who are not related to each other, live in the same apartment and own rooms in it. You can read more at

And her mom made sure of it. As the girl was registered in a communal apartment since birth, she stayed registered there.
“Then mom bought another room at a communal apartment using my money – I don’t know why. She bought the room in her own name, not mine. She said this is a better way and that she would later give the room to me. She said the same when she and dad bought dacha* in Dmitrovskiy region. No one ever asked for my opinion and I was not present during signing any contracts. Everything was bought in my mother’s name. But I wasn’t worried, I never cared about all this stuff. My always told me: “don’t worry, we will buy everything you need when the time comes, I’m not spending your money, I’m saving everything”.

*dacha is a country house mainly for living in the summer, but some are re-made to live all year round. Don’t imagine grand country houses that rich people summer in – it’s often a one or two-room tiny building with no insulation and an outhouse for toilet. Many Russians have dachas. Although, from the article it seems Grishina’s parents bought a dacha that is suitable for living in winter as well.

Love and other circumstances
Elite athletes retire early. At 21 Nastia achieved all she could in the sport. Besides the Olympic silver she has multiple European medals. In addition, she has has an Order “For Merit to the Fatherland” and honored master of sports title. Unfortunately, she also has injuries which prevented her from continuing the sports career.
“I had several surgeries already, but nothing is helping. After London I was competing for a couple of years, however, the results weren’t as high as before, unfortunately. I had strong pain in my knee.”
Last time Nastia competed was in 2015, she was only 19 then. After leaving the sport, Grishina had to embrace reality. The reality wasn’t so great – only one of her three brothers works, two others are unemployed and alcoholics. They live in the room in a communal apartment that was bought with Nastia’s money. She didn’t have money for her own apartment, so she stayed in her childhood room in her parents’ apartment. She didn’t have time to be sad, her adult life has started – the athlete started studying journalism at the Moscow State University.
“And then I fell in love” – the young woman is smiling – “You wouldn’t believe it, but I met my future husband, Victor, in a traffic jam.”
Vitya is a regular guy, he moved from another city to conquer Moscow. In the first months after they met he had no idea that his girlfriend is a famous athlete, she was just a regular girl to him. He only learned about her career after he came to visit her at home and saw all the cups and medals.
“My parents have always wanted me to marry a famous football player. But they liked Vitya at first and weren’t against the marriage when he asked for my hand half a year after we met.”
The young couple started wedding preparations. They wanted a big wedding, with a lot of guests, a dress, a photographer. They needed money.
“I asked mom to return my debit cards. She made a scene. At the end, she gave me the cards, but turned out there was only about 100,000 rubles in my accounts. Well, ok, nothing to do, Vitya paid most of the wedding bills. We got married. And almost immediately I realized I’m pregnant.”
The question was where the couple would live. And so Nastia started talking about buying an apartment again.
“My husband doesn’t own any property, so he moved in with me at my parents’. My brothers and parents were always scolding him about the fact that he has no apartment to bring his wife to. I had no idea how much money my mom was supposed to have saved for me. I only knew for sure about the 5 million I got from Putin and Sobyanin. I also had a car that I could sell. We listed it and it was immediately sold for 2 million. That was the only money I ever held in my hands and not for long. My mom took it almost right away, simply took from the drawer when we were at work, she explained: “I’ll keep the money so you wouldn’t waste it”. Ok, she can keep it for now, we thought. We finally found a studio apartment in Podrezkovo, it cost 3,7 million. But mom also insisted on buying it in her name, otherwise she wouldn’t give us money. She said it’s for my protection, so that my husband would have no rights to this apartment in case of divorce”.
But the couple never moved into this apartment in Moscow suburbs. Her mom interfered again and persuaded the daughter to put the apartment in her brother’s name, put two rooms in communal apartments in her other brothes’ names and give the dacha to her parents, especially since her dad was already living there. In turn, her parents promised to give her their own apartment in which she already lived.
“I was ok with this plan and Vitya and I started renovating the apartment before any legal changes took place. Our baby was due and the apartment was in bad shape with rotting window frames, old wallpaper, bad electrical wiring…”

All the masks were taken off after a trip to the bank

The apartment was still not in Nastia’s name. The renovations were moving quickly, though. Victor was in charge of all the works and he also paid for it.
“We didn’t have any savings, we were spending what we were earning. We found cheap workers, bought materials on sales, we took loans from banks and from our friends. Neither my parents nor brothers helped us to pay for the renovations. We didn’t care, we just wanted to have a nice apartment. It turned out really pretty. Although, my mom didn’t like it, she was always talking about her old furniture that we dismantled.”
Their son, Dima, was born in July 2016. Nasita’s mom wasn’t in a hurry to move to the dacha, she stayed to help with the baby. Nastia had to go back to work right away because they needed to pay back the loans and she appreciated her mom’s offer to help.
“But our relationship with mom wasn’t going so well. Mom was always fighting with me and Vitya, she was scolding him saying he lives in her apartment, she was always trying to control how much we spent and was complaining about babysitting our son. My brother almost killed me once when he came to the apartment drunk at night, carrying a knife. He banged on the door of my room, trying to open it. I was very scared, since Vitya wasn’t home. It was a complete nightmare.”
Nastia couldn’t take it anymore, so after another fight in January 2017 she packed her bags and left.
“I was at work when my wife called and asked me to come home right away” – Vitya remembers – “I came home and there was a fight there, the baby was crying, Nastia and her mom were arguing. At the end, we packed our bags and went to spend a night at our friends’. We weren’t able to return to our newly renovated apartment, because my mother-in-law changed all the locks.”
Then Nastia went to her bank.
“I got my accounts’ history from all the years and I was horrified” – she is crying – “Turns out all this time I had a very decent salary – around 100,000 per month. I was also getting monetary awards for winning medals and only in 2012 after the Olympics I received about 5 million rubles to my accounts. During all these years I earned around 20 million plus the car. However, my mom withdrew all this money right away. The last big sum of 2 million was withdrawn right before the wedding, a day before she gave me the cards and said we don’t have any money left. This is literally fraud. I got almost nothing from all this money. I don’t even have any rights to the room at the communal apartment where I’m registered. All the property that was bought is not in my name. My mom could make my son homeless. I was training for so many years, I wasted my health, and I can’t even have a maternity leave with my hard-earned money. My husband is working, but most of his income goes towards the apartment rent. We still haven’t paid all the loans we took for the renovations. I’m looking for a job even though I have a 8-month baby*.

*Russia has a 1,5 paid maternity leave, so mothers of babies that age are generally not expected to work. Although, I’m really not sure why is she not getting paid by her previous employer. I think she was officially employed by the gymnastics federation and should be still getting paid.

“Nastia is showing us the bank statements as a proof. We can see that cash withdrawals were done in ATMs, usually 50,000 or 100,000 rubles, right after the money arrived in the account. Nastia knows only about 3 big purchases – dacha (2,1 million), a room in a communal apartment (2,5 million), a studio in Podrezkovo (3,7 million). But that doesnt make up 20 million.
“I guess, they all lived on my money. And when I had no more money, when I was on a maternity leave and needed their help – they just threw me away. Even more, my brothers and father are calling me now saying that they will make things worse if I won’t stop talking publicly about this issue. Mom writes that she will take my money to her grave. But what am I supposed to do? I’m asking you, give me just one of the properties you bought with my money, I don’t need anything else. I don’t care about the rest of the money, even though I don’t understand where it all went. We’ve always lived quite frugally.”
Grishina is suing her family and filed a police report about the threats. She also asked Putin and Sobyanin for help.
“I had to do it, because my parents won’t even talk. We’re in a lot of debt, we had to take another loan to pay our lawyer 160,000 rubles. My family never loved me and now I’m going to be an outcast for the,. But I have to do it for my son. I need a place to live”.
So, that’s how Grishina went from a whirlwind of sport events to grim reality where family members are at each other’s throats because of square meters. There are no rules in these new games and no fair fight. How can a small and fragile 21 year old girl deal with it even if she’s an Olympic champion?
I called Nastia’s parents but they both refused to comment. Maybe they don’t have anything to add, maybe they’re ashamed. We are going to follow this story and give our support to Nastia.

A lawyer’s commentary:
“The athlete got into a very difficult situation” – says Andrey Akulov, lawyer – “She actually had a right to be in charge of her own money according to the law. First, she has to cancel her mom’s power of attorney. There are indications of embezzlement in this situation, so she has a case. All the property that was bought with Anastasiya’s money should be arrested by court and then returned to her.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Someone stop Valentina from giving any more interviews

Valentina gave an interview to an Azeri news site about the Baku Cup, which is sort of weird since no Russian gymnasts are participating.
In the interview she actually paid compliments to Americans (which never happens! she normally talks trash about everyone!), then talked about the plans for Euro preparation which include driving Melnikova to her grave, apparently. Valentina acknowledges that Melnikova is still very much not in shape after Rio, however, her solution to this problem is not keeping Melnikova out of competition till Euros, but rather sending her to all the possible competitions (Melnikova is going to Shtuttgart, London and Jesolo before Cluj). She also said that Russia doesn't have anyone else to compete right now which is bullshit - they have several young all-arounders who desperately need experience and would benefit from going to the World Cups much more than Melnikova.
Then she goes on to trash Chusovitina posing it is a compliment - shepraises Chuso for still competing but then says that Chuso is no longer a medal contender and her routines haven't changed in a long time. Like, is one year such a long time? Because Chuso competed TWO new vaults last season! Which is more than all the Russian team combined, basically.  And she's training an awesome new beam mount! And she had really good chances for a vault medal in Rio.
Someone please make Valentina retire, I can't with her anymore...

Oleg Verniaev on tv

Oleg Verniaev has recently participated in a Ukrainian sports talk show "Politika chempionov".
I'm giving a summary here:
First, he's asked whether Ukrainian lawmakers need to start the parliament sessions with physical exercises (USSR used to be very big on "zaryadka" - a short sequence of exercises done in the morning to charge yourself for the day). He believes it's a pretty good idea because it makes people less lazy and motivates them to do things, even though he hates "zaryadka" for himself because it's too early in the day and he'd rather sleep some more.
He's asked about his Chinese team t-shirt in which he trains often. Oleg exchanged t-shirts with Deng Shudi in Rio and got two Chinese shirts for one Ukrainian (t-shirts are hot currency, apparently!)
Turns out that with all the Olympic winnings Oleg was able to buy himself Porsche Macan - it was his dream to have a Porshe, but he thought he'd never be able to afford it and now he suddenly could.
His other dream was to have a proper vacation abroad, but he couldn't do it, because he went to compete in Bundesliga in the fall and then the regular season started. He feels really tired and desperately needs a break, so he struck a deal with his coach that he'd take a short vacation break after Euros (he's participating in two AA World Cups before Euros). He and his coach haven't had a vacation in four years, so they both really need it.
After the Olympics he was surprised with his newfound fame. He says people recognize him on the streets, write him on social media and he really appreciates all this attention. He feels that he didn't become too full of himself because he never stopped training after the Olympics. His coach also keeps him in check and doesn't let him become too arrogant.
He talks about his recent trip to Iceland and how he learned there that they choose gymnasts to go to tournaments not by their results, but by whether the gymnasts are able to fund the trip themselves.
He really liked the modern gyms in Iceland and was surprised at how many facilities they had for such a small country.
He wasn't very impressed with Newark and New Jersey... Especially compared to the 2015 American Cup in Texas. He says the surroundings of his hotel were pretty grim and dirty, there were no stores around. Although, after the Cup he was invited to a Cuban restaurant with a view of Manhattan, so that was nice.
Turns out he has a fan club with hundreds of members in Japan!
He says he gets about 50 messages a day with "Hi! how are you?", and, of course, he's not able to answer all these people, but they don't understand and get offended that he ignores them.
He doesn't talk about politics with his Ukrainian friends who changed nationality (like Kuksenkov), because they're all focused on gymnastics and don't have time for politics.
He said he can't give much information about Oleg Stepko, but he really didn't like Stepko's last interview and got offended, especially with how Stepko said he doesn't have any friends in Ukraine and only talks to his mom (even though he apparently was in touch with Verniaev). Verniaev stopped all contacts with Stepko after this interview and doesn't think they'll be in touch again.
Verniaev doesn't want to change nationality and doesn't consider any offers - he can imagine himself competing for another country despite all the difficulties he has in Ukraine.