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Ukrainian star tears up contract with Russian side Zenit after being dropped

Ukrainian defender Yaroslav Rakitskyi penned his support for his homeland earlier this week following Russia’s invasion and has subsequently left Zenit St Petersburg

Ex-Ukraine international Yaroslav Rakitskyi has left Russian side Zenit St Petersburg

Ukrainian ace Yaroslav Rakitskyi has left Russian outfit Zenit St Petersburg after Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade the defender’s homeland.

Rakitskyi, 32, was an integral part of Zenit’s team – winning three consecutive league titles, two Russian Super Cups and the Russian Cup during his three-year spell.

But he was dropped from Zenit’s starting XI for their 3-2 home win against Rubin Kazan on Monday after declaring his support for Ukraine on Instagram.

Rakitskyi asked for peace in his homeland and the ongoing conflict to be stopped, which started a week ago. Few are allowed to question Putin’s regime in Russia.

“The club and our supporters wish to thank Yaroslav Rakitskyi for his time here and recognize the professionalism and passion he displayed while with us,” read a Zenit statement.

“We sincerely wish the best to Yaroslav, his friends and his family.”







Yaroslav Rakitskyi was a key player for Zenit St Petersburg
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Rakitskyi’s move from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk to Zenit in January 2019 was hugely controversial at the time due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Although Russia’s widescale invasion of Ukraine has only just started, Rakitskyi’s country has been fighting pro-Russian rebels in the Donbas (or Donbass) region since April 2014.

Donetsk is one of the region’s biggest metropolitan areas and Shakhtar haven’t been able to play their home games at the Donbass Arena since the conflict started.

Rakitskyi was a legend at Shakhtar, winning eight league titles, six Ukrainian Cups and six Ukrainian Super Cups during a 10-year professional spell at the club.

But he was labeled a “traitor” for joining Zenit three years ago. He’s also not represented Ukraine since the transfer, subsequently retiring from international duty in 2019.

Fellow Ukrainian star Anatoliy Tymoshchuk – who won the Champions League, UEFA Cup and seven league titles during his playing days – remains Zenit’s assistant manager.

Several high-profile Ukrainian footballers have spoken out against the war, pleading with Putin to stop the bloody and harrowing conflict.

Manchester City ace Oleksandr Zinchenko and West Ham star Andriy Yarmolenko appeared in an emotional video, urging the violence to end.

“We appeal to the football community,” said the Ukraine internationals in the video.

“To everyone who is united in the game of football, every fan, every player, every coach, every manager, everyone who understands and loves football.

“We love football. We appeal to you.

“To explain to the whole world and to show to every inhabitant on planet earth that under the cover of special operation Russian troops are waging an open war on Ukraine.

“They are bombing residential areas with missiles and are bombing civilians.

“We call everyone who hears us to resist this war to stop the destruction and bloodshed. We ask all world football community to oppose Russian propaganda.

“To show the truth and tell the truth about this war in Ukraine by all possible resources. We thank everyone who has already done this and everyone who will support us.

“No to War. Glory To Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.”







Rakitskyi hasn’t played for Ukraine since his move to Zenit three years ago
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Russia captain Artem Dzyuba broke his silence on the conflict earlier this week, penning his thoughts on Instagram.

“Until recently, I did not want to talk about the events in Ukraine,” Dzyuba wrote.

“Not because I’m scared, but because I’m not a political expert. But I have an idea, just like everybody else. I’m against all forms of war. War is scary.

“I am against war, but I am also against discrimination based on nationality. I’m not ashamed to be Russian. I’m proud to be Russian.

“Why does everyone want politics to be outside of football, but forget this when it comes to Russia?

“I repeat, war is scary. In stressful situations, people show their true essence, sometimes negative. How much anger, dirt and bile has now been poured on all Russian people, regardless of their position and profession?

“The war will end but human relations will remain. And it will be impossible to rewind back. Keep this in mind.”

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