After his father was seen on camera on Wednesday night standing with a group of fans brandishing Russian flags and wearing pro-war “Z” emblems, Novak Djokovic was informed of the restriction on symbols supporting Russia at the Australian Open.
Four guys were reportedly removed from Melbourne Park by police after they chanted pro-Russian chants and waved flags outside Rod Laver Arena. Vladimir Putin’s image was depicted on one of the flags.
Srdjan Djokovic, 62, met with his admirers outside the arena and posed for selfies with one of them, who was wearing a T-shirt with a “Z” sign and waving a banner with the face of the Russian president before the supporters were booted out.
Srdjan may be heard saying “Long live the Russians” in a video published by the pro-Putin channel Aussie Cossack. The guy he is seen within the video also has a Night Wolves patch; the Night Wolves are a pro-Putin leather-wearing biker club.
Alexander Zaldostanov, the worldwide president of the gang, is the intended target of the film. The EU imposed sanctions on Zaldostanov in 2022 because his group had promoted an invasion of Ukraine via propaganda. Zaldostanov is said to be a close buddy of Putin.
The owner of the Aussie Cossack channel, Simeon Boikov, is a pro-Kremlin activist who, in December, was accused of assaulting a 76-year-old man who was attending a protest in Sydney in support of Ukraine. This Monday, a warrant was issued for Boikov’s arrest after he skipped court while hiding out in the Russian embassy.
After some spectators mocked Ukrainian player Kateryna Baindl with a Russian flag during her first-round match last week against Russian Kamilla Rakhimova, Tennis Australia banned Russian flags from the Open.
A Tennis Australia representative stated in a statement, “Players and their teams have been advised and reminded of the event regulation respecting flags and symbols and to prevent any scenario that has the potential to disrupt.” There has been no change in our strong cooperation with event security and law enforcement.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, tweeted, “It’s a whole package” in response to a video showing pro-Russian supporters at the competition. A Russian flag, Putin’s likeness, the letter Z, and a banner purporting to represent the Donetsk People’s Republic have all been seen among the Serbian flags. What a shame this is.
The drama surrounding Djokovic’s father comes only a year after Novak made headlines of his own at the Australian Open in a fight over-vaccination restrictions that led to his deportation.