A teenage Russian go-karter is being investigated for seemingly throwing a Nazi salute after successful a European Championship race.
Artem Severiukhin, 15, was filmed banging his chest twice whereas on the podium in Portugal on Sunday — then extending his proper arm in what appeared to be a transparent Sieg Heil salute.
The grinning, blond teen then broke into full-bodied laughter.
Motorsports’ governing physique, the International Automobile Federation, mentioned Monday it had launched “an immediate investigation” into the Russian’s “unacceptable conduct.”
The teen — who was racing beneath the Italian flag due to sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine — was additionally dropped by his group, Ward Racing.
The privately owned Swedish group said it was “deeply in shame” of his habits, which it “condemns in the strongest possible terms.”
“Ward Racing sees no possibility for continued cooperation with Artem Severyukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract,” the company mentioned, whereas additionally apologizing “to those who were hurt or distressed by the occurrence.”
The teen has insisted it’s a misunderstanding, claiming he was simply celebrating his win after seeing his household whereas on the podium in Portimao.
“I want to apologize to everyone for what happened,” he mentioned in a social media video Monday.
“Standing on the podium, I made a gesture that many perceived as a Nazi salute — this is not true. I have never supported Nazism and consider it one of the worst crimes against humanity,” he insisted, saying he was a “fool” who was “ready to be punished,” however he insisted he “cannot explain” how “everything happened.”
“But please know that there was no intention in my actions. There was no support for Nazism or Fascism.”
However, the Russian Automobile Federation instructed motorsport.com that it considers any “manifestation of fascism and Nazism in Russian motorsport and among Russian athletes” to be “unacceptable” — even when “accidental.”