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Citing Unrest, Ukraine Volleyball Team Pulls Out of Russian League

© RIA Novosti . Alexei Kudenko / Go to the photo bankVolleyball
Volleyball - Sputnik International
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A volleyball team from Ukraine is withdrawing from the Russian Superleague because of the political crisis gripping the country.

MOSCOW, March 3 (R-Sport) - A volleyball team from Ukraine is withdrawing from the Russian Superleague because of the political crisis gripping the country.

Lokomotiv Kharkiv, from the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, plays in both the Russian Superleague, one of the world’s strongest volleyball leagues, and the domestic championship, where it serves as a de facto base for the Ukrainian national team.

It gave no exact reason for the decision in a statement on its website that read: "We state with regret that we are suspending our participation in the Russian volleyball championship at the height of the season.

"The political situation around Ukraine has forced us into taking this difficult decision.”

Safety concerns have grown after deadly rioting in Ukraine’s capital Kiev led to the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. There are now heightened tensions with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, where Russian troops have taken up positions against the wishes of the new regime in Kiev.

"Today we retain the right to focus on our performances in the national championship and preparing players for the national team," the club’s statement said.

Lokomotiv won the European cup in 2004. The team is currently 10th in the 16-team Russian Superleague and was next due to play Grozny, in Russia's Chechnya republic.

It has played in the Russian championship since the 2011-12 season. The only other non-Russian team in the league is Soligorsk of Belarus.

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