Alerts Energy GAS SECURITY 26 February, 2024 7:30 am   

Fake Polish guy at a Gazprom event trumps up Putin’s propaganda

Przemowienie-Wladimira-Putina Vladimir Putin's Speech. Picture from YouTube.

On February 19, 2024, the Russians launched the Games of the Future, an “international” tournament designed to combine traditional sports competitions with digital gameplay. Gazprom is one of the sponsors of the event, which, to appear more prestigious, claims to host participants from all over the world, including… Poland. The problem is that the participant marked with a white and red flag is not a Pole at all.

The Games of the Future is an international competition, organized this year in Kazan. The Russians boast that professional athletes and clubs from all over the world are invited to participate. They compete in the phygital format (a combination of the real and digital worlds), where they must demonstrate not only physical fitness, but also skills in e-sports. The event is sponsored by, among others, state-owned companies, including Gazprom, which has been repeatedly accused of financing Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

The editors of the Onet Przegląd Sportowy drew attention to the fact that one of the participants is a cyclist from Belarus, marked during the presentation as… a Polish citizen. “Looking at the event’s official website, we noticed an incomprehensible absurdity. According to the organizers of the competition, athletes will represent 107 countries. Information about their names is displayed only in the Russian-language version of the site. Most of them are Russians, Brazilians, Chinese, Kazakhs and Filipinos, but there are also Canadians, Spaniards, Germans and… a Pole! […] His name is Yevgeny Sobal. Clearly the name and surname is quite unusual for a Pole. There is practically no information about him in our language, but after a long search of the Russian network it turns out that it is probably… a 42-year-old cyclist from Belarus Jauhien Sobal. The date and place of birth match the sportsman’s profile,” the Onet article says.

Interestingly, Onet learned that Yevgeny Sobal won Belarus’s road bicycle championships a few times. He also competed in track cycling at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. The only connections with Poland are: place of birth (the village of Chojno near the border with Ukraine, until 1939 it was Polish territory), representing the Polish team – PSB Group and winning the International Cycling Race “Solidarity” and the Olympians in 2016. There is also the issue of … the ban on entry into the Schengen zone, which he had received from the Polish authorities five years before this triumph.

The opening ceremony of the Games of the Future, which took place on February 19, 2024, is intended to show Russia as a country that cares about the tradition and promotion of sports, open to new ideas and experiencing emotions shoulder to shoulder with athletes from all over the world. This has been the practice of the Kremlin for years, and was particularly evident across Europe long before the invasion of Ukraine, when Gazprom promoted itself and Russian businesses during Champions League football matches. Today, two years after the start of the Russian military operations on the territory of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is trying to create a semblance of normalcy in his own backyard, because western sport events are off limits for him.

Onet / Jędrzej Stachura