Former Olympic Gold Medalist Oksana Baiul Sounds Off on Ukraine Crisis

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

NO. HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 12:  Ice skater Oksana Baiul arrives at the 58th Annual Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on August 12, 2006 in No. Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

For 1994 figure skating gold medalist Oksana Baiul, the Olympics are near and dear, but the 36-year-old Ukrainian has other things on her mind right now with her home country in turmoil.

According to an open letter released by Baiul on her official website, she agreed to appear on CBS' Entertainment Tonight in order to discuss the turmoil in Ukraine as well as Olympic figure skating, but she was not afforded that opportunity by the interviewer.

Because of that, Baiul made her feelings known regarding a number of subjects, including the political unrest in Ukraine:

The people of the Ukraine are fighting a vicious battle against organized crime, corruption and the forces of evil. While we shook the Soviet yoke in 1991, many of the corrupt, communist apparatchiks unfortunately managed to hold onto their positions. The crime and corruption continued but the Ukrainian people have finally had enough and are bravely making their stand. I pray for and support the valiant people of the Ukraine and wish for ultimate peace and happiness.

The Ukrainian people's attempt to overthrow the government has been waging for three months, and the violence has reached a frightening level recently, with police being given permission to open fire on demonstrators Thursday.

Paul Waldie of The Globe and Mail has documented the issues in Ukraine, and photos such as this one paint a horrifying picture:

A potential resolution to end the crisis is in place, according to BBC News, and it reportedly includes an agreement from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to hold a presidential election in 2014 as well as significant constitutional changes.

Provided an agreement to end the fighting is made, Baiul and her countrymen will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. She has a lot on her plate right now in addition to the issues in her homeland, though.

Baiul claimed that she has been duped out of millions of dollars since winning gold at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, and she is currently in the process of trying to recoup her losses through a lawsuit, according to her statement:

I likewise have made my stand against the organized crime and corruption that I have only learned about in the last two years. I filed a lawsuit in New York in October 2013 against numerous defendants for violations of RICO and other claims. William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC (my former agents), Wallin, Simon & Black (my former business managers, financial advisors and accountants), Galina Zmievskaya (my former coach), Victor Petrenko, Nina Petrenko and Joseph Lemire are among the defendants. While I am not risking my personal health in my lawsuit like the people of the Ukraine are in their fight, we are nonetheless fighting the same thing, organized crime and corruption.

Baiul is a national treasure, so perhaps her words will be taken to heart. It is clear that she supports the uprising, but violence certainly isn't the preferred method to spark change.

Unfortunately, Baiul was not given an opportunity on Entertainment Tonight, but at least she was able to get her message across on her own terms.


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