Hockey star Atemi Panarin has taken a leave of absence following allegations of abuse.
Panarin’s former KHL coach, Andrei Nazarov, claimed the player got into a physical altercation with an 18-year-old woman back in 2011, according to an article published Monday by ESPN. The allegations were originally published in a Russian newspaper.
Nazarov claimed Panarin “sent [the woman] to the floor with several powerful blows,” according to a translation from ESPN.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 22, 2021
“Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story,” the Rangers said in the statement on social media. “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.” (RELATED: Muslim Hockey Coach’s Claim To Be A Victim Of A Racist Text Comes Under Question)
The team called the allegations “unfounded” and vowed its support for Panarin.
“The Rangers fully support Artemi and will work with him to identify the source of these unfounded allegations,” the statement continued.
Nazarov claimed a criminal case was opened against Panarin at the time but was closed after someone allegedly paid “a sum of 40k Euro cash,” ESPN reported.
Nazarov has criticized Panarin’s political beliefs in the past, according to the outlet. Panarin has publicly shown support for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Instagram.