WASHINGTON — Stop us if this sounds familiar, but the Russians are trying to infiltrate one of Washington, D.C.’s most beloved institutions. It’s just not what you think.
The Washington Capitals are now on the front line of America’s struggle with Russia, as star Alex Ovechkin launched a campaign in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin is up for re-election in March and holds an 80 percent approval rating in his home country, making Ovechkin’s public support all the more curious.
Ovi announced the move on his Instagram page:
His translation, via Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post:
“Personal achievements and medals – all of this great, but in hockey, like with everything, to win it’s important to have a team. Only a team is capable of changing the course of a game, achieve the impossible.
“Lately, in the Western Press, I’m noticing a comparison to Putin’s team. And you know, I really liked that comparison. Personally, I’m ready to be a member of that team. I never hid my relationship with our president, always openly supported him.”
“Today, I want to announce a social movement in the name of Putin Team. Be a part of this team – to me, it’s a privilege, it’s like the feeling of when you put on the jersey of the Russian team, knowing that the whole country is rooting for you.”
As Ovechkin points out, he has a long-standing relationship with Putin forged around his athletic prowess. Ovechkin has been an outspoken supporter of international hockey competition, especially in the Olympics, which endears him to Putin. So, none of this is really surprising.
It’s just a little awkward that Ovi plays in the U.S. city most affected by Russian politics over the last 18 months. It is yet unclear what he intends to do, beyond posting uncomfortable social media messages between now and March.