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Is the Russian Government Really After Artemi Panarin?

Artemi Panarin takes a leave of absence after allegations of him punching an 18-year-old girl come out.


I'm not a huge hockey fan, but I do enjoy watching the Rangers play. When this news broke out yesterday, I was shocked. The Rangers best player beat the shit out of an 18-year-old girl?

So here's the allegation ESPN reported yesterday.

The news comes after a Russian newspaper published allegations from Panarin's former KHL coach, Andrei Nazarov, claiming the winger got into a physical altercation with an 18-year-old woman in Latvia in 2011. Nazarov's interview said Panarin "sent her to the floor with several powerful blows," according to a translation provided to ESPN. Nazarov has previously criticized Panarin's outspoken beliefs toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Later in the article, Nazarov claims there was a criminal case opened in Latvia but someone paid 40k in Euro cash to close the case.

The New York Rangers put out a statement fully supporting Panarin.

Apparently, Nazarov is an absolute psycho. He loves Putin, so he will smear whoever talks bad about him. Panarin has been outspoken about Putin and the Russian government, making this statement in 2019.

"I may look like a foreign agent right now, but it's not like that," Panarin said in the 2019 interview. "I think that the people who hush up the problems are more like foreign agents than those who talk about them. If I think about problems, I am coming from a positive place, I want to change something, to have people live better. I don't want to see retirees begging."-ESPN

According to Russian journalist Slava Malamud, Nazarov is mentally unstable, having several meltdowns during games. He's also called foreign players who speak against Russia to be jailed. The rumor is Nazarov paid the Russian tabloids to put this story out to smear Panarin. Other superstar players like Ovechkin, Malkin, and Kovalchuck have supported Putin. Ovechkin even started a campaign team called the "Putin Team". When Panarin made those comments, Malamud said it was unprecedented for a player of Panarin's caliber to be critical of Putin.

This reminds me of the Enes Kanter situation. Kanter has spoken out against the Turkish government. With Kanter's family still living in Turkey, he has mentioned he's scared for them because of his political beliefs. Turkey has also called Kanter a terrorist for his comments. He has also been criticized by fellow Turkish basketball player, Hedo Turkoglu. Panarin's family lives in Russia, so maybe he fears for them as well.

Crazy story. At first, I was confused why Panarin would take a leave of absence if he denied the allegation, but with the Russian government, you never know what's going to happen. Any sane person who knows what Putin does in Russia is fucked up. Hopefully, Panarin's family is safe and he's back on the ice sooner rather than later.

NHLArtemi PanarinNew York RangersRussiaSports