Rangers forward Artemi Panarin is taking time away from the team amid allegations that Panarin assaulted an 18-year-old woman in a bar in 2011.
The allegations, which are being widely questioned and discredited given the original source, state that Panarin assaulted the woman in a Latvia bar and paid 40,000€ (about $48,651) to keep the situation covered up.
The event is said to have happened after Panarin’s team lost a game. A supposedly frustrated Panarin is alleged to have beaten the woman and hurried off to his hotel room.
The Rangers issued a statement in support of Panarin on Monday:
The Rangers’ statement in its totality:
Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story. 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.
The source of the story, Andrei Nazarov, is a former head coach of Panarin’s in the KHL and is a noted and staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Panarin has been an outspoken critic of Putin throughout his NHL career, going so far as to recently post a picture of Russian opposition leader Alexi Navalny with the caption “Freedom” in Russian.
The timing of the story is considered questionable by some, considering Panarin’s recent support of Navalny.
In the story, Nazarov also says that Panarin would also steal from teammates and brag about it.
Panarin has family members that remain in Russia.