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Rambler's Top100

11 апреля 1997 года.
Russian nightmare still haunts Yushkevich

By DAVE FULLER -- Toronto Sun. Six years has elapsed since a gang of Russian thugs threatened Dimitri Yushkevich and his wife, Oksana, in a botched extortion attempt. Within days, the Yushkeviches fled their native Cherepovets and Oksana has never set foot on Russian soil again.

"It happened my first year (in the NHL)," the Maple Leafs defenceman recalled yesterday. "People phoned my house saying I had to pay (protection) insurance. "They made sure they called when only my wife was home, knowing she'd be scared. The next week we left the country." 

Yushkevich's story is not uncommon among Russian players in the NHL. An investigative report in the May issue of Details magazine claims Russian mobsters have tried to "shake down" as many as half the players in the league from the old East Bloc countries. 

While NHL officials consider that claim a gross exaggeration of the problem, members of the league's security department are working closely with FBI and RCMP units investigating the Russian Mafia. "I'm not really worried about the Mafia because they're making lots of money -- lots more than we do," said Yushkevich, whose parents still live in Cherepovets -- a 12-hour train ride from Moscow. 

"The real Mafia are solid businessmen. They respect athletes. They're really educated. They have a code (of honor). "It's the little Mafia groups, the very poor, they're the one's I worry about. They've got no rules." Leafs associate GM Mike Smith, who has a degree in Russian studies, says he's not aware of any current NHL players in trouble back home, but he acknowledges that lawlessness is rampant in Russia. "As far as (Russian) society is concerned, we all know it's the Wild West," Smith said. "Lots of fortunes have been made and died upon." 

Yushkevich believes America's obsession with violence is partly responsible for this Russian nightmare. "The young kids see all these American action movies -- gangsters, bad guys. It's really romantic," he said. "In the movies the bad guys come out looking pretty good. You can be a gentleman criminal." That said, Yushkevich loves his country and hopes to represent Russia at next month's world hockey championship in Zurich. 

"It's my country and because I played hockey it meant free education and free hockey growing up," he said. "They did a lot for me when I lived there. I never thought it was bad. "You always hope it will be better some day," he said. "But it may be 10, 20, maybe 100 years before it happens." Until then, Yushkevich says he won't risk returning home with his wife and their three children.

Страничка Дмитрия Юшкевича на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


"ЗВЁЗДЫ С ВОСТОКА" @ c 1997 года