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|What made Artemi Panarin speak out against Vladimir Putin|
19 èþëÿ 2019 ãîäà. By Brett Cyrgalis. New York Post.
Artemi Panarin got the team he wanted, then got his money, and now he’s making his voice heard back in his native Russia by ripping into authoritarian president Vladimir Putin.
The Rangers’ new winger, who signed a seven-year, $81.5 million deal at the opening of free agency a few weeks ago, came out with some of the most biting comments — if not the most biting comments — of any Russian athlete against Putin. Despite the possibility of repercussions coming for Panarin, the 27-year-old from the small town of Korkino, held nothing back when speaking with the Vsemu Golovin YouTube channel.
“I think [Putin] no longer understands what’s right and what’s wrong,” Panarin said, according to the translation from respected journalist Slava Malamud. “Psychologically, it’s not easy for him to judge the situation soberly. He has a lot of people who influence his decisions. But if everyone is walking around you for 20 years telling you what a great guy you are and how great a job you are doing, you will never see your mistakes.”
Panarin has not always been this outspoken, even showing support for Putin at times in the past — just like fellow NHL star Alex Ovechkin. Panarin even somewhat snarled when he met President Barack Obama in 2015 after his Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. But that changed recently when he began seeking out media that was not state-run.
“I was never really interested in politics. Never read the news. I was thoroughly focused on hockey and my progress,” he said. “Besides, it’s not like I crossed the [American] border and got enlightened right away. It took me something like two years before I thought, ‘Something is wrong [in Russia].’ I began feeling, with time, that at the end of summer I started to want to get back [to America].”
Panarin spent the first two years of his career in Chicago and the previous two playing in Columbus. He seems to have fully understood how his comments were going to look and how the Russian government might react.
“I may look like a foreign agent right now, but it’s not like that,” Panarin said. “I think that the people who hush up the problems are more like foreign agents than those who talk about them. If I think about problems, I am coming from a positive place, I want to change something, to have people live better. I don’t want to see retirees begging. I saw a normal-looking grandma in the metro yesterday, singing for money.”
Panarin said that he felt all of the money from Russia’s small towns was going into its big cities, and that was making life difficult for those outside the cities. He used Columbus as an example of how American cities work to help themselves.
“We have two cities that are developing, Saint Petersburg and Moscow, but the rest of them are a joke,” he said. “I lived in Columbus, which isn’t even in the top 10 American cities, but look at the pictures and you will see how nice it looks. Everything is clean, safe, everyone is calm. It’s great. American cities are developing thanks to local taxes which stay in the state. But here, a lot of money goes to Moscow, so people everywhere work for Moscow’s benefit. I always thought it’s unfair.”
With all of that being said, Panarin did admit that he was afraid there would be consequences for his words — which is another thing he disagreed with.
“I just don’t understand how I, speaking the truth, can suffer just for that,” he said. “If a person just has a different opinion … I mean, where the hell is this question even coming from: Will I get in trouble for it or not? This shouldn’t even [arise]. No trouble should come for this.”
And that comes back to the basic premise that Panarin has such trouble with, and that is Putin ruling with an iron fist and not tolerating dissent.
“The most painful topic for me is the lawlessness that is happening here. We have no laws, we have no agencies that would regulate big companies. Everything is bought. I don’t like it,” Panarin said. “Lawlessness is very painful for me. No freedom of speech, you can’t point out any negatives. This is what I don’t like.”
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