The ranks of athletes who have traditionally supported President Vladimir Putin are starting to crack after the imprisonment of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
In Russia athletes are less likely, if ever, to intervene in politics. Traditionally, most of them have been president Vladimir Putin supporters. But now something is happening in sports culture in Russia.
First, the former captain of the Russian national football team Igor Denisov said he wanted an imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalnyin free. Then a player in the NHL in the New York Rangers Artemi Panarin also announced its support for Navalny. However, Panarin has criticized Putin in the past.
Since Denisov does not have social media accounts, he sent his statement to Sports.ru in video format. Denisov said he wanted Navalny to be free, but at the same time said he was “not demanding anything”.
“Friends, greetings to all. I am Igor Denisov, former Lokomotiv, Zenit, Dynamo and the Russian national team captain. I’ve never been interested in politics and I’m not going to be. But this is not about politics. I want to support Alexei Navalny, I will not incite anyone to anything. I just want to support his family, children, wife and him himself. Great respect for him. He should be free. Peace and goodness to all. ”
Financial Times Moscow correspondent Max Seddonin according to Navalny’s arrest has clearly hit some nerve in Russia. Seddon also pointed out that athletes have indeed been one of Putin’s biggest supporters in general.
After Denisov, Panarin announced on Instagram to his half a million followers that he supported Navalny.