Novak Djokovic has been reminded about the Australian Open’s ban on symbols supporting Russia after his dad was filmed posing alongside a group of spectators carrying Russian flags and wearing pro-war “Z” logos on Wednesday night.
Victoria Police confirmed four men were evicted from Melbourne Park after the group shouted pro-Russian slogans and waved flags outside the Rod Laver Arena. One of the flags had Vladimir Putin’s face on it.
Before the supporters were thrown out, Srdjan Djokovic, 62, met with fans outside the arena and posed for pictures with one person wearing a T-shirt with a “Z” symbol and carrying a flag bearing the Russian president’s face.
In a video uploaded by the Putin-supporting YouTube account Aussie Cossack, Srdjan appears to say “Long live the Russians.” The man he’s standing next to in the clip is also wearing the logo of the Night Wolves—a pro-Putin, leather-sporting motorbike gang.
The video itself is addressed to the gang’s international president, Alexander Zaldostanov. Zaldostanov, believed to be a personal friend of Putin’s, was sanctioned by the EU in 2022 over the gang’s propagandizing for the invasion of Ukraine.
Simeon Boikov, who runs the Aussie Cossack channel, is a pro-Kremlin activist who allegedly assaulted a 76-year-old man at a Sydney rally in support of Ukraine in December. A warrant for Boikov’s arrest was issued this week after he failed to turn up in court while seeking refuge in the Russian consulate.
The clip with Srdjan came after Tennis Australia banned Russian flags from the Open after some fans taunted Ukrainian player Kateryna Baindl with the flag during her first-round match against Russian Kamilla Rakhimova last week.
“Players and their teams have been briefed and reminded of the event policy regarding flags and symbols and to avoid any situation that has the potential to disrupt,” a Tennis Australia spokesperson said in a statement. “We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement agencies.”
“It’s a full package,” tweeted Vasyl Myroshnychenko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, in response to a video showing the pro-Russian fans at the tournament. “Among the Serbian flags, there is: a Russian flag, Putin, Z-symbol, so-called Donetsk People’s Republic flag. It’s such a disgrace.”
Djokovic’s dad’s controversy comes a year after Novak created his own headlines at the Australian Open in a spat over vaccination rules that ultimately saw him deported from the country.