The New York Rangers released a statement regarding Artemi Panarin on Monday after the star left winger was accused of beating up an 18-year-old woman while at a bar in his home country of Russia in 2011. The allegations against Panarin were shared in an article published in Russia, in a politically lead article. The winger is taking a leave of absence in wake of the accusations.
The Rangers wrote that Panarin denies all of the claims.
"Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story," the team said. "This is clearly an intimidation tactic being used against him for being outspoken on recent political events. Artemi is obviously shaken and concerned and will take some time away from the team. The Rangers fully support Artemi and will work with him to identify the source of these unfounded allegations."
Andrei Nazarov, who coached Panarin in the Kontinental Hockey League, is the accuser in the article and a Putin supporter. The ALhockey.ru article, according to translation by the he New York Post, details Nazarov's claims. He alleges that on Dec. 11, 2011, a 19-year-old Panarin went to a hotel bar after losing a game and having a bad performance and "sent the 18-year-old citizen of Latvia to the floor with several powerful blows."
Nazarov claims the police came to the scene and detained the hockey player, but a bribe of 40,000 euros got him out following a criminal case and trial.
The Rangers mentioned Panarin has been "outspoken on recent political events" in their statement because the allegations come not long after Panarin made public comments against Russian president Vladimir Putin and showed support for opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
He posted a photo of Navalny with his family to his Instagram page with a caption that reads, "Freedom for Navalny."
Panarin's still has grandparents and other family members living in Russia, according to the New York Post.