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I believe that’s a ‘no comment, please’

For those of you who'd been wondering whether the Russian Olympic orientation camp players will be willing to discuss Russia's anti-homosexuality laws, Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov asked Russian Hockey Federation spokesman Mikhail Zakharov about that topic, and while this is an incredibly rough translation of his response, you'll get his drift:

The Track and Field World Championships in Moscow became an arena for discussing the law prohibiting homosexual propaganda aong minors. Don't you worry that media representatives may exaggerate this topic? Will you recommend that hockey players avoid these questions?

"You know, that point's never been raised. And I don't think that the Olympic gathering needs to discuss this topic. Because there are more interesting subjects for the several months leading up to Sochi. You could talk about hockey, for example. From my point of view, it's not necessary to push sport into the background and pull political issues to the forefront. And who would initiate that kind of thing?"

A colleague from the Canadian broadcaster TSN just wrote, 'Do you think that they'd answer uestions about all the anti-gay laws that the Russian government's dealing with now?' That is: 'Do you think their players would comment on the laws adopted by the Russian government against gays?'"

"I can't deny that, for example, the Canadian press could ask Alexander Ovechkin about his attitude toward some laws. But I do know that Sasha's a man who understands things and would respond as he sees fit. Once again, we're confronted by the fact that, at the training camp of the national team, it's better to ask about hockey. It's like talking French in Nizhny Novogrod--the players won't understand."

In theory--though Zakharov suggests otherwise--the Russian players will be meeting with Vladimir Putin on Friday and will be made available to the media on Saturday, so we'll see how things play out.

Given the inherently political nature of the Russian hockey team, it's entirely possible that players may damage their chances of playing for the team if they address the topic in a frank and honest manner. I don't expect them to say anything definitive on the topic until they're on this side of the Atlantic.

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Comments

Primis's avatar

I frequent a hockey video game forum and the Russian (and some other European) users there have been claiming the whole thing is a fabrication of western media out to assassinate Russian credibility as a distraction to the “real” problems in North America.

They’ve gone so far even as to call North Americans “sheep” who only think we have free speech and press, and are too ignorant to realize the truth.

It’s a reminder as to what we’re really dealing with here.  There literally are people who believe that, and will tow the Russian line.  They literally believe this is an American conspiracy.  They’re blind to the state of their own country and what Putin does and is.

Posted by Primis on 08/21/13 at 12:17 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

I don’t expect them to say anything

and they shouldn’t. This is hockey , not the court of public opinion.

Posted by Primis on 08/21/13 at 12:17 PM ET

unfortunately both you and “they” are correct.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 08/21/13 at 12:21 PM ET

Avatar

They’re blind to the state of their own country and what Putin does and is.

This is more broasly true that perhaps many realize.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/21/13 at 12:59 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

That is very true for the vast majority of Russia. That’s the reason he’s re-elected. There are still strong anti-Semitic and anti-gay inclinations in Russia, especially between Putin sort of replacing/representing the old communist ideology and the orthodox church in Russia suggesting that homosexuals represent a clear and present danger, so the anti-gay laws are actually widely supported.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/21/13 at 01:12 PM ET

Primis's avatar

That is very true for the vast majority of Russia. That’s the reason he’s re-elected. There are still strong anti-Semitic and anti-gay inclinations in Russia, especially between Putin sort of replacing/representing the old communist ideology and the orthodox church in Russia suggesting that homosexuals represent a clear and present danger, so the anti-gay laws are actually widely supported.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/21/13 at 01:12 PM ET

I wouldn’t even be surprised if one or two Russia team members spoke out in FAVOR of the Russian rules at some point.  If for no other reason than brownie points.

Posted by Primis on 08/21/13 at 03:14 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The KHL’ers might. I’m not gonna name names but the players who do have something to gain may very well praise the laws.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 04:47 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.