Monday, 7 November 2011

Kozakiewicz’s gesture

Picture date: July 30, 1980

This picture was taken on the 1980 Summer Olympics Games in Moscow which were controversial from the beginning. They were boycotted by the USA and several other countries because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Despite boycott, athletes from these countries participated in Olympics Games under Olympic Flag and Hymn what was criticised and censored by the Soviet television.

Władysław Kozakiewicz, from whom the gesture's name comes from, made the gesture on July 30, 1980 to Russian spectators in the stadium. The hostile, jeering crowd was rooting for Soviet jumper Konstantin Volkov, even during Kozakiewicz's spectacular performance. Having just secured his gold medal position, Kozakiewicz made the gesture in defiance to the Soviet crowd. To many, it signified Polish resentment of Russia’s control over Eastern Europe; in Poland, the gesture became immediately known as Kozakiewicz’s gesture.

After the Olympics, the Soviet ambassador to Poland demanded that Kozakiewicz be stripped of his medal over his “insult to the Soviet people”. The official response of the Polish government was that the gesture had been an involuntary muscle spasm caused by his exertion. Kozakiewicz for his part promptly defected to West Germany.

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