A senior Russian politician says Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov‘s arrest over domestic violence charges is motivated by the U.S. attempting to weaken Russia’s hockey team for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
“I’m confident of Semyon’s innocence,” State Duma deputy Igor Ananskikh said, according to R-Sport. “I think it is sports and political move, as Varlamov is a candidate for the Russian national team. The main goal is to suspend him from training and games so that he loses practice and misses the Olympics.”
Ananskikh elaborated, according to Voice of Russia.
“The situation is really strange, given that the Sochi Olympics will take place soon and Varlamov is a candidate to become part of our national hockey team which we do count on. What about presumption of innocence? It’s not normal at all. Varlamov will fall out of the training process which will have an impact on his readiness before the Olympics in Sochi. The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is an effort to weaken our national team.”
Varlamov has been the top Russian goalie in the NHL this season and could start for the team at the Sochi Games. The U.S. plays Russia on the second Saturday of the Olympics.
ProHockeyTalk has the details on Varlamov turning himself in after charges of second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault.
Varlamov’s father told R-Sport that no crime was committed.
UPDATE: Russian hockey executive director Valery Fesyuk had this to say, according to a Russian report translated by Yahoo!:
“This is an unpleasant situation. We can only hope that everything is resolved positively. … It would have been better not to have these types on news at all with less than 100 days before the start of the Games, to the success of which we are investing all our resources.”