Artemi Panarin taking Rangers leave of absence after Russian hit piece

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New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the team in wake of a politically motivated article from Russia, in which his former Vitayaz head coach alleges that the ex-forward of the Moscow Region club beat an 18-year-old girl in Riga, Latvia in 2011, The Post’s Larry Brooks reported Monday morning.

Andrei Nazarov, who is currently the head coach of the KHL’s Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, has repeatedly criticized Panarin for the forward’s outspoken beliefs regarding Russian leader Vladamir Putin’s regime. Nazarov is a known Putin supporter.

The Rangers are expected to release a statement on the situation.

In July 2019, Panarin sat down for an interview with the Vsemu Golovin YouTube channel and eviscerated Putin. It was a bombshell interview in which the 2020 Hart trophy finalist – barefoot in his living room in Saint Petersburg – criticized Putin’s entire regime.

Panarin discussed Russian politics, economy, freedom of speech and drew several unflattering comparisons of his homeland to the United States.

Panarin’s grandparents still reside in Russia, as well as a few other family members. 

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