Russia | Goalkeeper Ivan Fedotov forced into military service

(Moscow) Goalkeeper of the Russian national ice hockey team Ivan Fedotov has been arrested and sent to the far north to do his military service, which he was trying to escape amid the conflict in Ukraine, multiple media outlets reported on Monday.

Posted at 9:33am

25-year-old Olympic runner-up Fedotov had just joined an ice hockey team in the United States and was set to go there soon.

The TASS news agency and the player’s lawyer reported that Fedotov was sent to Severomorsk in the Murmansk region in the harsh far north, where an important naval base is located.

The leading Russian sports newspaper sports express and the media Fontanka for their part, reported that the player was sent to the city of Severodvinsk in the neighboring Arkhangelsk region.

According to multiple media outlets, the player was arrested in Saint Petersburg on Friday night on suspicion of trying to evade military service amid the conflict in Ukraine.

According to these media, Fedotov was taken to hospital after his arrest because he was unwell, which his lawyer Alexei Ponomarev confirmed.

“He was transferred from the hospital but I have no further information,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, for his part, considered “sentimental discussions on this topic inappropriate”.

“Conscription is enshrined in Russian law,” he told reporters.

Fedotov was the starting goalkeeper for the Russian team at the 2022 Olympics, winning a silver medal with them.

He played for CSKA Moscow in 2021/22, signed a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) in May and was preparing to go to the United States, a country whose relations with Russia are very strained.

One-year conscription is very unpopular in Russia amid fears of harassment, the prospect of boring jobs and now fears of deportation to Ukraine.

Many Russians, often actively supported by their parents, multiply the strategies to escape by paying bribes, obtaining medical exemptions or thanks to their studies.

The opposition also accuses the authorities of using military service to punish Kremlin critics, sending them primarily to remote areas where the work is particularly arduous.

Such is the case, for example, of Rouslan Chaveddinov, an activist close to jailed opponent Alexeï Navalny, who was handcuffed in 2019 to the Nouvelle-Zemble archipelago in the Arctic, a former nuclear testing site occupied by polar bears due of global warming.

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