Australian Open semi-finalist Karen Khachanov made headlines across Australian media outlets for his outspoken support of the blockaded Armenian Republic of Artsakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).
Khachanov featured in the latest ANC-AU briefing to over 200 journalists and editors, covering the Russian-Armenian’s support for Artsakh, which entered its 45th day under siege by Azerbaijan, who has blocked the region’s sole land route to the outside world.
Following an amazing victory in his third match at the Melbourne grand slam against American national Frances Tiafoe, he inscribed a message on the Channel 9 camera to the world, stating: “ARTSAKH STAY STRONG”.
Khachanov, who has now made it to the Australian Open semi-finals, utilised the same platform again to amplify the voices of the voiceless after securing his fourth victory, this time writing: “Keep believing all the way until the end!!! Artsakh Stay Strong!!!”.
Following his quarter-final win, Khachanov’s support for Artsakh was covered in The West Australian, Channel 7, Channel 9, Perth Now, Singleton Argus, Yahoo Sport, Herald Sun and the Daily Express publications, as the Azerbaijani Tennis Federation moved to silence the world number 20 ranked tennis star.
The federation, part of the propaganda apparatus of Azerbaijan’s dictator President Ilham Aliyev, claimed that Khachanov’s message of solidarity in support of innocent Armenian Christians under siege was “hateful” and appealed to the International Tennis Federation.
Michael Kolokossian, the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), said the petro-dictatorship of Azerbaijan was simply scrambling to silence criticism of their criminality on the international stage.
“Azerbaijan is a regime which has been recognised as ‘not free’ by Freedom House for its silencing of political opponents, jailing of journalists and calling election results before citizens have had a chance to cast a vote. This is just another example of Azerbaijani authorities to punish critics who expose the country’s gross human rights violations against the indigenous Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh. The claims that Khachanov’s comments are hateful as bogus as the facade of a democracy that has delivered this criminal regime with impunity to commit mass crimes,” said Kolokossian.
“Azerbaijan can continue to prohibit freedom of expression in its own country, but it has no right to restrict freedoms here in Australia that promote human rights, especially in an era where political activism by athletes has become increasingly important.”
“It is great to see the Australian Open stand by Karen Khachanov in his plea for peace. We thank the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Australian Open for not bowing to Azerbaijani threats,” added Kolokossian.
“The Armenian National Committee of Australia thanks Karen Khachanov on behalf of Armenian-Australians and the greater Armenian nation for bringing mass media awareness to the plight of our compatriots in Artsakh who currently have limited access to food, medical supplies and the outside world as a result of Azerbaijan’s policies.”
The Armenian superstar will be taking to the Australian Open court on Friday, 27th January 2023, with a victory meaning he will take his place in the grand final.