Artemi Panarin supports Putin rival
New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin showed his support for Vladimir Putin rival Alexei Navalny on his Instagram. Photo: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin has voiced his support for a political rival of Russian president Vladimir Putin by posting a picture on his public Instagram account. While not mentioning the Russian president by name his Instagram post entitled ‘Freedom for Navalny’ is enough to show where his loyalties lay. Panarin, 29, posted to his Instagram a picture of Alexei Navalny and his family while titling it ‘Freedom for Navalny’ in Russian.

The forward received encouragement from other Russian players including Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov who commented and reposted the picture. It is also not the first time Panarin has been critical of the way his homeland is run. Back in 2019 while a part of the Columbus Blue Jackets organization Panarin commented during a Russian interview:

“I may look like a foreign agent right now, but it’s not like that. I think that the people who hush up the problems are more like foreign agents than those who talk about them. If I think about problems, I am coming from a positive place. I want to change something, to have people live better. I don’t want to see retirees begging.”

Alexei Navalny, the person Panarin posted about, is a Russian politician and main opposition to Vladimir Putin’s position in power. Navalny had been poisoned before boarding a plane in August last year and was transported to Germany for evaluation and treatment. Upon his return to Russia on January 17th he was arrested for breach of his probation which stems from an embezzlement case in 2014. Most believe the charges brought against Navalny were bogus and done to stop him from running against Putin in upcoming elections.