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5 Sep, 2022 14:43

Russian hockey player sentenced in military bribery case

Anvar Suleimanov learned his fate on Monday
Russian hockey player sentenced in military bribery case

Russian ice hockey player Anvar Suleimanov has received a five-year suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of attempted bribery in a case regarding false ID documents and efforts to dodge military service.

Suleimanov, 22, was sentenced at the Leninsky District Court in the city of Ufa in Russia’s Republic of Bashkortostan on Monday after admitting his guilt.

The legal team for the former Salavat Yulaev goaltender had asked for leniency after he expressed remorse during the trial, while prosecutors had demanded a fine of 3 million rubles ($50,000).

According to RIA Novosti, reporting from the courtroom, the judge sentenced Suleimanov to five years’ suspended imprisonment with probation for four years, after the charges had been amended from “bribery” to “attempted bribery.”  

Legal representatives for the player said they would not appeal the verdict, which lawyer Gulshat Kamaletdinova added would likely not affect the career of the young player, who now features for Phoenix Kazan.

“It depends on the correctional commission, it will not affect the career in any way, it will actually be a deferment from military service,” Kamaletdinova was quoted as saying.

Investigators initially said Suleimanov had been one of two Ufa university students to give a bribe to receive a release or deferment from serving in the Russian armed forces.

The bribes are said to have been in the region of 170,000-175,000 rubles ($2,780-$2,860), with the alleged bribe-taker later being arrested.

Officials then uncovered a third hockey player in the case, which is said to involve a businessman, Farit Samigullin, and potentially a local official at a military office. 

As well as Suleimanov, 25-year-old forward of Vladislav Lukin of HC Yugra and former St. SKA Petersburg forward Mikhail Vorobyov, also 25, have been charged with giving bribes.  

Vorobyov has admitted to transferring 200,000 rubles to obtain a fake military ID, although he says he never received the document.

Vorobyov has reportedly declared his willingness to serve in the army and his next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 6, while Lukin’s will be held on September 22.

Russian hockey players and military service emerged as a heated topic during the summer, after former CSKA Moscow goaltender Ivan Fedotov was detained on claims of attempting to dodge his duty ahead of planned move to NHL team the Philadelphia Flyers.

Fedotov, 25, and his legal team have denied those claims and have filed an appeal, although any chances of him linking up with his new team ahead of next season seem slim as it was last reported that the goalie was undergoing training at a military center in northern Russia.

There were also claims that Russian winger Kirill Kaprizov was caught up in a fake military ID scandal, fueling fears that he might not return to NHL team the Minnesota Wild.

Those concerns proved unfounded, however, and the 25-year-old has now returned to the US before the start of the NHL season in October.