Yesterday, we pointed out the fishiness of the Artemi Panarin story. While any story of domestic violence/sexual assault is worthy of a deeper look, the circumstances around this one didn’t quite add up from the start. One, the claim came from a stated political enemy of Panarin in former coach Andrei Nazarov, not the victim herself. Given the political alignments of all the parties, and what happens to outspoken critics of Vladimir Putin either by Putin himself or his cronies, all of it deserved something of a cockeyed look. The details being wishy-washy didn’t help its cause, nor did some of the facts not lining up.
That looks to be the case even more so today. Slava Malamud, who is all things when it comes to news about Russian hockey players or Russian hockey, has a couple threads outlining the problems in the story and some new details today that chip away at its stability.
The details that are not lining up — Panarin’s teammates railing against the claims, the wrong currency being mentioned, and the travel schedule of the team not lining up to Nazarov’s story — seem to fall in behind the fact that Nazarov is an unhinged loon. It sounds as if he’s Russia’s version of Don Cherry, except instead of being limited to seven minutes of TV time per week as Cherry was, Nazarov has parlayed his popularity and bellicose delivery into actual coaching jobs and influence.
Also, reporters in Latvia can’t seem to find any police or hotel workers from the night in question to corroborate the story. It should also be noted that the tabloid in which Nazarov’s story appeared, Komsomolskaya Pravda, has a reputation for being a state-supporting rag for the truly lost. Past highlights include a front-page story that the U.S. was responsible for the Charlie Hebdo shooting. More reputable papers in the country would not run the story for lack of believability.
This is far from over, as Panarin took his leave for some reason, though it’s likely it was because of fear for his family back in Russia. Nazarov doesn’t appear to be the type to retract anything, nor does the tabloid that ran with this.