It was announced earlier today that New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin would be taking a leave of absence from the team after a Russian newspaper accused him of physically abusing a woman while he was in the KHL in 2011.
Artemi Panarin Taking Leave Of Absence From The New York Rangers After Report He Got Into A Physical Altercation With A Woman In 2011https://t.co/Xcv0v1Xrcu
— SideAction (@SideActionHQ) February 22, 2021
The report came after Panarin’s old coach, Andrei Nazarov, claimed he assaulted an 18-year-old girl in Latvia. Nazarov (a known Vladimir Putin supporter) has been critical of how Panarin has spoken out Russia’s president in the past. The New York Rangers released a statement calling the report an “intimidation tactic”.
“Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story,” the Rangers said in a statement Monday. “This is clearly an intimidation tactic being used against him for being outspoken on recent political events. Artemi is obviously shaken and concerned and will take some time away from the team. The Rangers fully support Artemi and will work with him to identify the source of these unfounded allegations.”
Many people on social media think that Andrei Nazarov has teamed up with Putin to try to take Artemi Panarin down.
Panarin can be in the Burrata gang. This headline is a little misleading. Putin is trying to assassinate his character https://t.co/CWt2s2Aj7z
— Chief (@BarstoolChief) February 23, 2021
Panarin has been outspoken about Putin and suddenly he’s accused of a crime he committed a decade ago? pic.twitter.com/J1b0YZAgR8
— Dr. Evil Gritty (#1 seed again) (@DrEvilGritty) February 22, 2021
On a related note, how insanely fucked up is it that Panarin, who has taken immense risks to criticize Putin, is being discussed in the North American media extensively, while Ovechkin, an avowed Putin ass-kisser, is off-limits, because "we cover sports, not politics"?
— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) February 22, 2021
I've confirmed with #NYR that Artemi Panarin has taken a leave of absence. They're not saying much else for now, but clearly eyebrows are raised at these allegations coming after Panarin's been outspoken against Putin and he's concern about the well being of his family in Russia.
— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) February 22, 2021
Rare for Russian athletes to speak out against Putin. Not Panarin, who has been consistent.
From 2019: "People who hush up problems are more like foreign agents than those who talk about them. I'm coming from a positive place. I want to change something." https://t.co/lGAfDQCEEK
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) February 22, 2021
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I translated the Russian Panarin article as best as I could & here's some bullet points of the allegations made by his former coach Andrei Nazarov, a known Putin supporter (thread) #NYR:
— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) February 22, 2021
Very strong statement from Rangers on Artemi Panarin… calls 2011 story from Russia "fabricated" and "an intimidation tactic" – Panarin is highest profile Russian athlete to criticize Putin https://t.co/tcNZJD7KSh
— Michele Steele (@MicheleSteele) February 22, 2021
Artemiy Panarin's former KHL coach accused him of a violent attack— but the allegation comes not long after Panarin critiqued Putin in support of Alexei Navalny.@BlueshirtBanter https://t.co/SuNSj6VRAr
— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 22, 2021
I’m not going to take a stance one way or another on whether or not Putin could somehow being orchestrating a move against Panarin, but the story is interesting nonetheless.
Hopefully some more information comes out about this alleged assault. Until then, we’ll wait to see how this bizarre story unfolds.