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Ukraine Disowns an Olympic Champion Who Skated in Russia

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As Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, Viktor Petrenko, one of Ukraine’s most visible Olympic champions, posted the message “NO WAR” to his Instagram account. Days later, Petrenko’s daughter said her father had been stranded in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, where he was taking shelter after returning from a commemoration of his 1992 Olympic figure skating title that had been held in his hometown, Odesa.

Petrenko appeared to be one of the many Ukrainian athletes who would defiantly serve as wartime ambassadors for their besieged nation. But since then, his standing as a champion has deteriorated in his native country.

In June, Petrenko announced his intention to leave the Ukrainian figure skating federation. A day later, he was provisionally expelled, a federation official said. And in July, Petrenko was formally ousted, and fired from his position as a vice president, after he participated in an ice show in Sochi, Russia.

On Monday, the office of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced that Zelensky had stripped Petrenko of a monthly stipend given to top athletes and other Ukrainians of great achievement, citing Petrenko’s performance in Russia.

The ice show was organized by Tatiana Navka, a 2006 Olympic ice dancing champion, who is the wife of Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman. In March, the United States Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Peskov and Navka for their ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and said that Navka had a property empire worth more than $10 million.

Another skater in the show, called “The Scarlet Flower,” is Kamila Valieva, the Russian teenager whose positive test for a banned substance was made public during the Beijing Olympics in February and who bungled her final routine of the Games under the weight of international scrutiny. The show is scheduled to continue through September, though it is not clear if Petrenko is still performing in it.

In January, before the war started, Petrenko posted on Instagram that he was performing in St. Petersburg, Russia. But the Ukrainian skating federation said it was “outraged” by Petrenko’s skating in Russia after the invasion occurred.

“The former athlete made his shameful decision despite the bloody full-scale war that Russia has been waging,” the federation said in a statement, according to a translation. The deaths of thousands of Ukrainians, the statement said, “did not become an obstacle for Viktor Petrenko to go out on the ice” in Russia “and perform in the same team with the supporters of this terrible war.”

Ukraine’s Olympic Committee also denounced Petrenko’s behavior, saying it was “unacceptable” to perform “on the territory of the aggressor country, which is waging a brutal war against Ukraine.”

On Monday, Petrenko, 53, did not respond to a request for comment. His daughter, Victoria, who lives in New York, said she was at work and unable to speak with a reporter.

Galina Zmievskaya, who coached Petrenko to his gold medal and now teaches skating in Hackensack, N.J., also did not respond to a request for comment.

Anastasiya Makarova, the general secretary of Ukraine’s figure skating association, said in a WhatsApp message Monday that Petrenko wrote a letter to officials on June 21, before he skated in Russia, saying that he wanted to leave the federation.

Petrenko explained in the letter that he was spending most of his time outside Ukraine while conducting his professional skating activities, Makarova said. Petrenko spends much of his time coaching and performing in ice shows across Europe. Skating, like the rest of life in Ukraine, has been disrupted by the war.

He was provisionally expelled from the federation a day later, then formally ousted on July 9 by the federation’s council, Makarova said. “Unfortunately, I don’t know why he took part in the show” in Russia, Makarova said.

Petrenko won a bronze medal while competing for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, finishing third in the so-called Battle of the Brians won by Brian Boitano of the United States over Brian Orser of Canada.

Four years later, Petrenko won gold at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. Only two months earlier, the Soviet Union had dissolved. Petrenko competed during that tumultuous period not for Ukraine but for what was called the Unified Team in Albertville, composed of athletes from former Soviet republics.

In 1994, when the Winter and Summer Games began being held in separate years, Petrenko finished fourth at the Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, this time skating for the blue and yellow flag of his native Ukraine.

In the early 1990s, though, he joined an exodus of more than 100 skaters and coaches from the former Soviet Union who came to the United States to continue their careers during a period of economic chaos in Russia, when money for skating was scarce and some rinks were turned into shopping malls and automobile dealerships. Eventually, Petrenko returned to Europe to coach and skate in ice shows.

In the small, close-knit world of elite figure skating, at least one prominent Russian coach, Tatiana Tarasova, came to Petrenko’s defense for performing in Sochi. She told Tass, the Russian news agency, that Petrenko was “one of the best people I know” and that “it’s ugly that he’s forbidden” to do his job.



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Colorado home where Chris Watts killed his family is sold

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The Colorado home where Chris Watts savagely murdered his pregnant wife and two children in 2018 has been sold, according to a report.

The five-bedroom, four-bath house in Frederick was sold for an unspecified price, The Sun reported.

It had been on the market since May when the listing said potential buyers had to submit a funding commitment of at least $600,000 from a bank.

A real estate agent posted a congratulatory note on social media to the new owners saying, “It took everything we had to get here!!! So happy for you guys and can’t wait to see the memories you make in your new home!!!” according to The Sun.

The agent then added “since it’s been asked. Yes, this was the Watts house. It is now the Miller home and they cannot wait to put love, family and laughter back into this house.”

Chris Watts was convicted of murdering Bella, Celeste and Shanann Watts in 2018.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation via AP
Christopher Watts is escorted into the courtroom before his bond hearing at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colo.
Christopher Watts is escorted into the courtroom before his bond hearing at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, on Aug. 16, 2018.
Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP, Pool, file
Chris Watts
Chris Watts murdered his pregnant wife and two children.
Weld County Sheriffs Office/MEGA

Watts was convicted of the 2018 killings of his wife, Shanann, 34, and daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3,

The murders were the subject of the Netflix documentary “American Murder: The Family Next Door.”

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Queen Elizabeth II worried Prince Harry was ‘over-in-love’ with Meghan Markle: biography

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Queen Elizabeth II thought grandson Prince Harry was “perhaps a little over-in-love” with his new bride Meghan Markle, according to an upcoming biography.

“This was as far as she came – to my knowledge at least – to ever uttering a word against the new Duchess of Sussex,” British broadcaster Gyles Brandreth wrote in “Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait.”

The late British monarch was “truly delighted” when her grandson said he was marrying Markle, according to the book which will be released in December.

“She liked Meghan and told lots of people so. And she did everything she could to make her future granddaughter-in-law feel welcome,” according to the biography, an excerpt of which was published in the Daily Mail.

The Queen wasn’t even put off by the Sussexes infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“I can tell you, because I know this, that the Queen was always more concerned for Harry’s well-being than about ‘this television nonsense’, meaning both the Oprah Winfrey interview – which caused so much controversy – and the lucrative deal the Sussexes made with Netflix,” wrote Brandreth, a former MP who has long known the royal family.

The Queen had a form of myeloma, according to the biography.

The Queen reportedly did not care about the Sussex's Netflix deal.
The Queen was reportedly happy that Prince Harry was marrying Meghan.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 19: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission of #960087582 with alternate crop.) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wave from the Ascot Landau Carriage during their carriage procession on Castle Hill outside Windsor Castle in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 after their wedding ceremony. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle outside Windsor Castle on their wedding day on May 19, 2018.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II at the Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 26, 2018 in London, England. The Queen's Young Leaders Programme, now in its fourth and final year, celebrates the achievements of young people from across the Commonwealth working to improve the lives of people across a diverse range of issues including supporting people living with mental health problems, access to education, promoting gender equality, food scarcity and climate change. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace on June 26, 2018.

He wrote that the monarch was “was anxious that Harry should ‘find his feet’ in California and ‘find really useful things to do’. “

Brandreth also revealed in the book that he “had heard that the Queen had a form of myeloma — bone marrow cancer — which would explain her tiredness and weight loss and those ‘mobility issues’ we were often told about during the last year or so of her life.”

The Queen died in September at 96 with the official cause of death listed as old age.

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Youngest Virginia Walmart shooting victim Fernando Chavez-Barron used first check to buy gift for mom

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The teen gunned down with five co-workers at a Virginia Walmart had just started working at the store — and used his first paycheck to buy a gift for his mom, according to a report.

Fernando Chavez-Barron, 16, was a “hardworking” and “humble” 11th-grade honors student who just earned his driver’s license and was an “excellent big brother,” according to a GoFundMe set up for his family, which has brought in more than $14,000.

He was the youngest of six employees slain Tuesday at the big-box store in Chesapeake, a suburb of Norfolk.

“I was hoping everything was a dream until today,” Fernando’s childhood friend Joshua Trejo-Alvarado told WTKR. “I wish he was still standing here with me.”

The city of Chesapeake, which had initially withheld Fernando’s name due to his age, publicly identified Fernando Friday.

Chavez-Barron was a “humble” and “hardworking” 11th-grade honors student.
AP

Deranged Walmart manager Andre Bing opened fire at his colleagues in the store’s break room just after 10 p.m., before fatally shooting himself.

Randall Blevins, 70, part of a team that arranged merchandise and set prices at the store, had worked at Walmart for “almost 30 years,” his cousin Virgil Wimmer told The Post. A year ago, he told Wimmer he planned on retiring soon, citing his age.

Blevins, who he described as “laid back,” appeared to have changed his mind, which he chalked up to the fact that “he really liked Walmart,” Wimmer said.

“He really enjoyed his job,” Wimmer said. “That’s the reason I found out he decided to work on and not retire.”

Police officers outside the Chesapeake Walmart.
Friends and family members have mourned the Chesapeake victims in the days following Tuesday’s shooting.
REUTERS

One woman who worked with Blevins two decades ago at the company recalled starting her career by his side.

“20 years ago…I had this Walmart friend,” the colleague, Denise Black Brzenk, wrote, posting a photo of Blevins in his blue vest. “His name was Randy Blevins.”

Custodian Lorenzo Gamble, 43, worked at the Chesapeake location for 15 years, his mother, Linda, wrote on Facebook. Before the shooting, he’d been getting ready to transfer to another store in Grassfield, just nine minutes away.

“What do I do now” she wrote. “My world is turn[ed] up side down.”

A person stands by a memorial to the Walmart victims, set up at a tree with balloons
Randall Blevins had planned on retiring, but continued working because liked his job.
AP

Kellie Pyle, 52, was a mom who planned to wed in 2023.

“We love her,” said her future mother-in-law Gwendolyn Bowe Baker Spencer. “She was going to marry my son next year. She was an awesome, kind individual — yes she was.”

A makeshift memorial with the words “Our Hearts are with you” and a basket of flowers had been set-up outside the Walmart for Tyneka Johnson, 22.

During her high school years, Johnson had her sights for attending college and “gelled” with everyone she met at Cannon’s Blessed Tutoring Services, tutor Casheba Cannon told the Washington Post.

Brian Pendleton, 38, a custodian who had just celebrated his 10th anniversary at the store, would regularly show up before his 10:30 p.m. start time and was in the break room when Bing began shooting, his mother, Michelle Johnson said.

“He always came to work early so he would be on time for work,” his mother said. “He liked his coworkers.”

With Post wires

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