TALLINN – Russian figure skater Alexander Zaboev is seeking Estonian citizenship, in part in order to compete in the Sochi Olympic Games in February.
Yekaterinburg-born Zaboev, 24, has been skating with Estonia’s Natalja Zabijako since October 2012 and the pair managed to qualify for the Olympics after taking ninth place at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany last month.
“I want to get Estonian citizenship not only to participate in Sochi, but to continue represent the country in the future,” Zaboev said on Estonian TV. “I want to represent Estonia and contribute to the development of figure skating in this country.”
Mixed-nation pairs are allowed to skate on the Grand Prix circuit, but Olympic rules require both to be from one nation, and Zaboev will be the one to switch because Russia’s Sochi slot is occupied by gold medal favorites Tatyana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.
The Estonian figure skating federation has already petitioned the government to fast-track Zaboev's application “for special merits,” and a final decision is expected by January 11. If Zaboev doesn’t get citizenship in time, then Estonia will only be represented in the singles by Jelena Glebova and Viktor Romanenkov.
In May, two other figure skaters left Russia – Polina Shelepen switched to Israel and Ivan Bariev to Italy. The Olympic figure skating competition is scheduled for February 6-20.