New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the team in wake of a politically motivated article from Russia, in which his former Vityaz head coach alleges that the ex-forward of the Moscow Region club beat an 18-year-old girl in Riga, Latvia in 2011, The Post’s Larry Brooks reported Monday morning.
Andrei Nazarov, who is currently the head coach of the KHL’s Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, has repeatedly criticized Panarin for the forward’s outspoken beliefs regarding Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s regime. Nazarov is a known Putin supporter.
“Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story,” the Rangers said in a statement. “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.
In July 2019, Panarin sat down for an interview with the Vsemu Golovin YouTube channel and eviscerated Putin. It was a bombshell interview in which the 2020 Hart trophy finalist – barefoot in his living room in Saint Petersburg – criticized Putin’s entire regime.
Panarin discussed Russian politics, economy, freedom of speech and drew several unflattering comparisons of his homeland to the United States.
Panarin’s grandparents still reside in Russia, as well as a few other family members.