Tony G Now Made Persona Non Grata in RussiaMarch 31, 2017 11:07 am
For the past week, the partypoker Million Sochi has been running at the Sochi Casino and Resort in Russia, with its showcase Main Event attracting an impressive 1,170 players. One player who isn’t taking part, though, even if he could have taken time off from his European Parliament duties, is Antanas “Tony G” Guoga, whose name has now been added to the country’s official blacklist.
News of the development was announced via the EPP Group twitter page, a centre-right political party which is the largest in the European Parliament, with the message reading:
“Putin’s blacklist is getting longer. Another @EPPGroup MEP banned from entering Russia. #Lithuania’s @TonyGuoga”
Tony G represents the Lithuanian Liberal Movement, and apparently he fell foul of Kremlin sensibilities after having a heated debate with a Russian diplomat during a European Parliament hearing. In the exchange, Guoga asserted his views concerning the need for Lithuania to be energy independent from Russia, and as a result he now joins an ever-increasing list of persona non grata in Russia, which includes everyone from politicians to musicians, including the likes of the Village People, Tina Turner and Madness.
While Tony G has since made light of the ban, suggesting that it was a response to his beating Russian player Rafael “Ralph” Perry at the 2006 Intercontinental Poker Championship, he has also stated what he believes to be the real reason for his ban:
“The more obvious reason for being blacklisted is speaking up for freedom and democracy, as my EPP Group in the European Parliament colleagues noted. That’s the price of politics and I’m ready to pay it. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to play in the recent partypoker Million event in Sochi.”
Guoga also highlighted that after taking down the 2007 Russian Poker Championship, he donated all of his $250k prize money to a Russian special needs orphanage. Taking a swipe at the country’s elite, he then added that if he had attended the current tournament in Sochi, Russian charities would have been the beneficiary of any prize money he may have earned, explaining:
“I would have won and given all the money to a local orphanage because sometimes the oligarchs forget that sharing is caring!”