Report: New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin may be able to file a libel suit

Jim Bay
New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin
Dec 12, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) celebrates after his teammate left wing Artemi Panarin (10), not pictured, scored his side’s sixth goal during the third period at SAP Center in San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

It has been just longer than one day since we received the bombshell news concerning the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin. At this point, there are not many people that believe the news out of Russia stating that Panarin assaulted an 18-year-old girl in 2011 while in the KHL.

Panarin has the full support of the entire Rangers organization. Yesterday after practice, Ryan Strome had this to say about the Panarin: “I think he is in good hands. The Rangers do an unbelievable job of having a support system for players for anything we need. He is in good hands and he is such a good person. Good teammate and he has been such a good role model for me and some of our younger teammates with his personality and the way he carries himself.”

Now it appears that Panarin may have some legal recourse back in Russia.

According to Michael Seawing of sports-express.ru, Panarin may be able to file a libel lawsuit against the coach who reported the accusation, former Vityaz coach Andrei Nazarov. The article quoted lawyer Angela Panova, who claimed that (translated) both law enforcement agencies and the court are involved in libel cases. Artemy Panarin should write a statement that Andrei Nazarov’s information is not true. Also, we need witnesses, audio and video materials confirming that Artemy did not commit illegal acts in the bar. Such cases are regulated by part 2 of Article 128.1 of the Russian Criminal Code.

According to the translated article, Part 2, Article 128.1 of the Russian Criminal Code states that defamation contained in a public statement, publicly displayed work, media or made in public using information and telecommunications networks, including the Internet, or against several persons, including individually not defined, is punishable by a fine of up to 1 million rubles or in the amount of wages or other income convicted for the period up to the year either mandatory work for up to 240 hours, or forced labor for up to two years, or arrest for up to two months, or imprisonment for up to two years.

It is not clear whether Panarin would want to go that route. The speculation is that this report surfaced because of critical social media postings that Panarin made concerning the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It has been widely reported that Nazarov is an ardent supporter of the Russian President, and this may have been done in retaliation for those postings.

However, what is known is that the Rangers will be without one of their best players for an extended period of time.