MOSCOW, September 10 (RIA Novosti) – Alex Ovechkin, Russia's star ice hockey player currently residing in the United States and playing for the NHL has recently uploaded a photo on his Instagram, in which he was holding a sign with the hashtag “Save Children From Fascism,” referring to situation in Ukraine, for which he then faced strong criticism from the West.
During an interview with the ESPN sports channel, Ovechkin explained his statement, claiming that he was speaking out against war.
"I don't try to make a statement… Right now, as a Russian, I have lots of friends from Ukraine. I just don't want a war. Nobody wants a war. Especially when people are so close. It's hard to see especially when you live so close to Ukraine. It's hard and it's dangerous. People die," Ovechkin told ESPN.
In just a few hours, Ovechkin’s Instagram was filled with comments from Americans, who accused him of supporting the local militia in eastern Ukraine and pushing him to quit the NHL and move back to Russia.
Former ice hockey champion, Vyacheslav Fetisov said that sports and political battles should never be connected and condemned statements made by American hockey fans.
“Let’s be honest, fascism has been condemned by international society for years now. As an event, as a fact. How can you connect them? I am worried about Ovechkin’s career in the United States now. Although sport is the only thing, which can unite people now,” Fetisov said during an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant.
The Washington Post argued that by posting such a photo, Ovechkin was expressing his whole-hearted support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s view on the situation in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, Alex Ovechkin remains one of the top players in the NHL, the superstar of the Washington Capitals, which makes it doubtful that the US will send such a great player home.
Save The Children From Fascism is a social-media campaign currently commenting on the situation in Ukraine and condemning the actions of the Ukrainian Army and Kiev authorities, whose military operation aimed at suppressing independence supporters in eastern Ukraine claimed thousands of lives, including children.