Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Anastasiia Demurchian on her gold medal at the IBA Women's World Championships in New Delhi ©Russian Boxing Federation

Vladimir Putin has publicly congratulated Anastasiia Demurchian after she won a gold medal at the International Boxing Association (IBA) Women's World Championships in New Delhi, in what critics will fear could be a forerunner of what to expect if Russian athletes are allowed to compete at next year's Olympic Games in Paris.

The Russian President sent a letter to Demurchian following her victory in the light middleweight division at the K.D. Jadhav Indoor Hall in India's capital on Saturday (March 25).

"From the bottom of my heart I congratulate you on your brilliant victory," Putin wrote in a letter published on The Kremlin website.

"At the World Championships in New Delhi, you demonstrated bright leadership qualities, skill and will, defeated strong and experienced rivals, and with your triumph confirmed the strong, confident position of the national boxing school.

"I wish you new successes and all the best."

Anastasiia Demurchian claimed that the Indian organisers' failure to play the correct Russian national anthem at the medal ceremony was
Anastasiia Demurchian claimed that the Indian organisers' failure to play the correct Russian national anthem at the medal ceremony was "insulting" ©Russian Boxing Federation  

Groups opposed to plans by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow individual Russian athletes to compete at Paris 2024, as long as they are not attached to the military or have publicly supported the war in Ukraine, have warned that every success they achieve in the French capital will be used by Putin for propaganda reasons.

Demurchian was among a group of 12 Russian boxers allowed by the IBA, led by Russian Umar Kremlev, to compete under their own flag in New Delhi, despite IOC recommendations that the country should not be allowed to display any national symbols following Putin's invasion of his neighbour in February 2022.

But her victory was tarnished when Indian organisers played Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 - instead of Russia's national anthem - at the medal ceremony.

The stadium announcer apologised for the mistake before Demurchian was brought back on to the stage after the majority of fans had left and stood alone on the podium as Russia's national anthem was played.

"I didn't understand what was happening," Demurchian told the Sport-Express newspaper.

"After a couple of seconds, I heard Tchaikovsky, it was insulting.

"But after that, all our fans sang the anthem with us, and then I walked around the ring with the flag of Russia.

"It was even better than the award."

Tatyana Kiriyenko, secretary general of the Russian Boxing Federation, ruled out any conspiracy as to why the wrong anthem was played.

"It was not a sabotage," she told Russia's official state news agency TASS.

"It was the result of a technical error.

"We have already been apologised for what happened.

“We were waiting for the Russian anthem.

"There were tears of joy in our eyes.

"We are grateful to the International Boxing Association for the unprecedented decision taken to return our athletes with a flag and an anthem."