The Maryana Naumova And Arnold Schwarzenegger Feud Explained

The 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces created more than just a military conflict and political crisis, according to the Daily Mirror. The war also caused an online disagreement between two well-known former athletes. In the run up to the hostilities, Russian President Vladimir Putin justified the action as a response to so-called "Nazis" at work within Ukraine, an assertion roundly refuted by Western observers and Western media, as The New York Times explains. Shortly after conflict broke out between Russia and Ukraine, former governor of California and professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, released a video directed at the Russian people.

In his message, posted on Youtube, Schwarzenegger urged Russian citizens to push back on what he characterized as misinformation regarding Ukraine, fabricated in his view by the Kremlin to justify the Russian army's military aggression against their neighbor. Directed at the Russian President Vladimir Putin Schwarzenegger said, "This is an illegal war," based on 2022 Associated Press reporting. In her response, Maryana Naumova (pictured), a champion Russian powerlifter once called the "world's strongest girl" as a teenager, shot back at "The Terminator" star. Her video message, also posted on Youtube, revealed a rift between the two champion weightlifters.

Schwarzenegger was once Naumova's hero

Per Muscle and Fitness, Maryana Naumova (pictured above) came to public attention at the age of 12 as the youngest female powerlifter to bench press 154 pounds. Two years later, at the age of 15, Naumova more than doubled that number when she benched 330. In the mid-to-late 1960s, before he came to Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a champion powerlifter. Among other accomplishments, he's known to have bench pressed around 500 pounds, according to The Barbell. On the day that Naumova cleared 330 pounds, in 2015, Schwarzenegger was in attendance. Naumova was 23 years old when she responded to Schwarzenegger's Ukraine message.

According to Russian state media outlet, RT, after Naumova benched more than 300 pounds, Schwarzenegger hugged the young athlete to congratulate her. She then reportedly gave her hero a number of documents and letters related to alleged mistreatment of Ukrainian citizens by the Ukrainian military and neo-Nazis in the Donbass a region. According to Naumova, at that time, Schwarzenegger said he'd take steps to investigate the purported problem. In her video response to the one-time California governor, Naumova said (via RT) "Obviously, you didn't work on the letters I gave you, even though you promised."

Naumova referenced the Schwarzenegger family Nazi connection

In his first message shared online directed at the Russian public, Schwarzenegger mentioned his only family's history with the Nazi party. During World War II, Schwarzenegger's father, Gustav Schwarzenegger, was a member of the Nazi party though there's no known evidence the senior Schwarzenegger committed war crimes, as the Los Angeles Times reports. In the context of Schwarzenegger's anti-war video message, the fact was brought up to point out the film actor harbored no ill-will for the Russian people despite lingering antipathy on his father's part left over from World War II. As a young man, Schwarzenegger looked up to Russian weightlifters, according to the Daily Mirror.

In her response, Naumova jumped on the topic when she said (via RT) " ... [Y]our family once was already deceived by Nazism and your father came to my homeland with a gun, killing and maiming my compatriots." She urged Schwarzenegger to come see for himself the alleged abuses perpetrated on the people of the Donbass region by Ukraine's military. "Your message is based on some other invented reality. The reality is, Arnold, that your 'Terminator' not only did not protect, but did not help, did not save the children of Donbass, did not read their letters and try to understand the situation," Naumova said. asserts Putin's claims of neo-Nazi, far-right, and nationalist organizations in Ukraine are overstated, though Ukraine, as elsewhere, has seen an increase in such political orientation in recent decades.