he father of tennis ace Novak Djokovic, Srdjan Djokovic, is under fire after appearing to pose with Pro-Kremlin supporters and proclaiming “long live the Russians” as his son took part in the Australian Open.
In a YouTube video posted by Aussie Cossack, Djokovic Sr makes his way through a crowd appearing to join a pro-Russian demonstration. He is shown posing for a picture with a man holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it.
As he leaves he appears to say “zivejli Russiyani” roughly translated as “long live the Russians” to a man wearing the a t-shirt emblazoned with the “Z” symbol – used to signify support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Zivejli” is a Serbocroat word meaning “cheers” while “Russiyani” refers to Russian citizens, and the phrase that is translated by the channel as “long live the Russians”.
It came as four men with “inappropriate flags and symbols” were being questioned by Victoria Police following the quarterfinal between Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Djokovic, organisers Tennis Australia said.
Tennis Australia did not provide details, but a video emerged on social media showing a fan on the steps of Rod Laver Arena holding up a Russian flag with the image of President Vladimir Putin on it.
Russian and Belarusian flags are banned from Melbourne Park during the Australian Open after a complaint from the Ukraine ambassador to the country last week.
“Four people in the crowd leaving the stadium revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards. Victoria Police intervened and are continuing to question them,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.
“The comfort and safety of everyone is our priority and we work closely with security and authorities.”
Ukraine’s Former player Alexandr Dolgopolov urged Tennis Australia to issue a life ban for the individual in a tweet.
Human Rights researcher Sophie Mak tweeted the clip, adding: “Not Novak Djokovic’s dad saying ‘long live the Russians’ and taking pics with people holding Putin flags and wearing Z shirts and chanting about the Russian empire. Not them doing all of that openly while the security at the @AustralianOpen just stood and watched. Shameful.”
It came after Djokovic Snr previously accused Australia of treating the tennis number one “like a criminal” after they cancelled his visa when he refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
“They’re keeping him in captivity. They’re stomping all over Novak to stomp all over Serbia and Serbian people,” Djokovic‘s father Srdjan told reporters last year.