Putin critic finds support from NHL star Artemi Panarin on social media
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New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin posted a picture to Instagram on Thursday showing support for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was arrested on Sunday several months after he was poisoned.
Panarin, a native Russian, posted the picture of Navalny, his wife and their two children with the caption “Freedom for Navalny.”
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Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most well-known critic, was arrested on Sunday when he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.
Panarin declined to comment further on the post through a Rangers spokesperson, ESPN reported.
This isn’t the first time the Rangers alternate captain has spoken out against Putin. In a 2019 interview, he criticized the Russian president saying that he “no longer understands what’s right and what’s wrong.”
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“Psychologically, it’s not easy for him to judge the situation soberly,” Panarin said at the time, via Sports Illustrated. “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’s post comes just days ahead of planned protests against Navalny’s detention.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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