There’s a new Putin critic in town. One of Russia’s highest-profile hockey stars, Artemi Panarin, has spoken out against Vladimir Putin, saying he used to be a supporter of the Russian president but has since changed his mind after coming to the U.S., BuzzFeed News reports. Panarin, who recently signed a contract with the New York Rangers, said in an interview recently: “A few years ago I was only thinking about hockey. People were saying to me, ‘Your president is a tough guy.’ And I was proud of that. Then I thought, Something must be wrong here.” Panarin’s criticism is a rarity amongst Russian athletes, who typically show support for Putin or forgo taking a side. In the interview, Panarin added that two-term presidential limits were good, a slight to Putin, who is currently serving his fourth term. Panarin said he wants to advocate for change in Russia, which he says has seen relatively little social change since the 1990s. Panarin has played in the U.S. since 2015, first for the Chicago Blackhawks and then for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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