Updated at 01:25,03-03-2021

Russia calls Belarusian who carried its flag at Rio Paralympics a 'hero'

RFE/RL / Based on reporting by The Guardian, TASS, BelTA and Interfax

Russia has thanked a member of the Belarusian Paralympic team for carrying the Russian flag at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics in Rio.

"Today we have a hero,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on September 8. “This is a man who carried the Russian flag at the opening of the Paralympic Games in Rio, showing solidarity with those who have been barred from the Rio Paralympics in a mean and inhuman way."

The flag was confiscated after a member of the Belarusian delegation made several steps holding it aloft during the September 7 ceremony.

“What the Belarusian Paralympians have done deserves admiration,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dzmitry Mironchyk called the move "manly behavior."

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has barred the entire Russian Paralympic team from competing in Rio, after an investigation found that Moscow ran a state-sponsored sports doping program.

The chief of Belarus’s Paralympic Committee, Aleh Shepel, told a Russian radio station last month that Belarusian athletes were ready to carry Russian flags at the opening ceremony.

The IPC later warned that it prohibits such actions.