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‘I was drinking calmly, sitting with my wife’: Russian ex-NHL star Saprykin rejects air rage claims

‘I was drinking calmly, sitting with my wife’: Russian ex-NHL star Saprykin rejects air rage claims
Russian former ice hockey star Oleg Saprykin has rejected claims that he attacked an air stewardess, after a flight he was on from Sochi to Moscow was forced to make an emergency landing.

Reports on Tuesday stated that the former Russia international, 37, had become involved in a row on board the Aurora Airlines flight, forcing an emergency landing in the city of Voronezh.     

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“I’ll say right away, there was no fight, I didn’t touch anyone, neither fellow passengers nor a stewardess,” the former NHL ace told Sport Express.  

“I was drinking calmly, sitting with my wife in business class. Then suddenly we landed unexpectedly in Voronezh."

Saprykin flatly denied that he had flown into a rage after a stewardess had refused to attend to him, saying: “No, the service was OK. They brought everything on time.”

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He said, however, that some fellow passengers had complained about the noise he was making.   

“Behind up in economy class there was a passenger who wasn’t satisfied with our behavior.

"Perhaps we were being loud, but it was New Year, a celebration.  

“There was a verbal conflict. But we didn’t get out of our seats." 

He also denied claims he had tried to enter the pilot's cabin. 

"There was an incident when the pilot’s door opened, and I glanced at the controls.

“I just looked from my seat out of curiosity. I wasn’t planning to enter the cabin, I’ve been flying for 20 years and I know the rules.”

The ex-Calgary Flames left wing claimed that the pilot may have exaggerated the incident in making the decision for an emergency landing.

“As far as I know the pilot took the decision [for the emergency landing].

“When the police met us, my wife and I were informed that the plane had landed because of a mass fight on board. The pilot said that 10 people had been fighting.”

He also denied that anyone on board had issued a police complaint against him.  

“Of course not. I didn’t attack anyone. If that had happened, I would be sitting at home now.

“I was given an administrative fine for using bad language in a public place, 500 or 1,000 rubles ($7-$14).

“The police studied the footage and then let us go,” he added.     

Saprykin’s comments appear to run counter to the official Interior Ministry statement on the incident. 

“An intoxicated man violated public order, made obscene expressed to the passengers and flight attendants, in connection with which the aircraft commander decided to make an emergency landing in Voronezh,” the statement read, without naming the passenger. 

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