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6 Sep, 2022 10:54

Russian ex-NHL player punished in military bribery case

Mikhail Vorobyov learned his fate at a court in the city of Ufa on Tuesday
Russian ex-NHL player punished in military bribery case

Russian hockey player Mikhail Vorobyov has escaped a jail sentence but has been fined 2 million rubles ($33,000) after being found guilty of attempting to bribe an official to avoid military service.

The verdict against Vorobyov, 25, was delivered on Tuesday at Leninsky District Court in the city of Ufa.

A former member of Ufa-based hockey team Salavat Yulaev, Vorobyov was one of three hockey players to face charges as part of an investigation into bribes paid to an employee of a military registration and enlistment office in order to evade service.

On Monday, fellow former Salavat Yulaev player Anvar Suleimanov, 22, was handed a suspended five-year prison sentence as part of the same investigation.   

Bribes reportedly amounted to 170,000-175,000 rubles ($2,780-$2,860), and allegations of providing fake military documents are said to involve a local businessman, Farit Samigullin, and potentially an official at a military office.     

Vorobyov had admitted his guilt and willingness to serve in the armed forces, with the case against him being reclassified to attempted bribery, according to RBC Sport

A third player, Vladislav Lukin, is still to learn the outcome of his case although a trial is scheduled to begin on September 22.

Each player was facing a lengthy prison term and hefty fine, although based on the first two punishments, Lukin seems likely to escape that fate.

Vorobyov is a forward at one of Russia’s top hockey clubs, SKA St. Petersburg, where he has played since 2021.

He formerly featured for NHL team the Philadelphia Flyers and its farm club in the American Hockey League.

The issue of Russian hockey players and military service has emerged as a heated topic in recent months.

Former CSKA Moscow goaltender Ivan Fedotov was detained in July on claims of attempting to dodge his duty ahead of planned move to Philadelphia.

Fedotov, 25, and his legal team have denied those claims and have filed an appeal, but any chances of him linking up with his new team 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 embroiled 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 made his way back to the US before the start of the NHL season in October.