NEW York Rangers star Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence following allegations from his former head coach that he beat an 18-year-old woman in 2011.
The NHL forward has denied the claim saying that he’s being targeted for criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The 29-year-old Artemi Panarin has taken a leave of absence following allegations that he beat an 18-year-old woman in 2011Credit: Getty Images – Getty
It comes after the 29-year-old criticized Russian President Vladimir PutinCredit: EPA
Andrei Nazarov, who is the head coach of Russia’s KHL Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, told a local newspaper that Panarin sent the woman “to the floor with several powerful blows” according to a translation by ESPN.
A known Putin supporter, Nazarov has previously criticized Panarin for his outspoken beliefs regarding Putin’s regime.
The New York Rangers released a statement earlier today stating that Artemi “vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story.”
The statement continued: “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.”
Nazarov said a criminal case against Panarin was opened in Latvia but said that somebody paid a “40,000 euro bribe”.
It is unclear who paid the alleged sum.
According to ESPN, Panarin was traded from the Russian team a month after the alleged assault.
Last month, the 29-year-old ice hockey star showed his support for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in an Instagram post ahead of anti-Putin protests in Russia.
Panarin posted a photo of Navalny, a critic of Putin, along with his wife and two kids with a caption that translated to “Freedom for Navalny”.
In 2019 Panarin attacked Putin directly while speaking on a YouTube video.
“The mistake in our society is treating him like a superhuman,” Panarin said of Putin, as translated by Russian sports reporter Slava Malamud.
“He is a regular person, like us, and he is serving us.”
Meanwhile, the caged Kremlin critic Navalny has overtaken Putin as Russia’s most-talked-about politician for the first time, according to a new analysis.
The 44-year-old was said to have been mentioned on social media 1.3 million times more than Putin after being detained at a Moscow airport on January 17, having recovered from a Novichok nerve agent attack.
Navalny was later sentenced to two-and-a-half years in a prison labour camp.
This was punishment for failing to report to police in August while he fought for his life in a hospital in Germany after falling ill on a plane in Siberia — in a widely suspected attempted Kremlin-assassination.
Before he was jailed, Navalny released a bombshell video revealing a secret Black Sea pleasure palace allegedly built by Putin at a cost of £1 billion, which has now been viewed more than 100 million times.
Anger over his jailing and the palace claims sparked angry demonstrations involving tens of thousands of angry citizens across the vast nation’s 11 time zones.
A statement from the New York Rangers that states the NHL star denies all allegations amde against himCredit: Twitter/@NYRangers