During an interview with YouTube blogger Yuri Dud published on Sept. 21, Russian hockey player Nikita Zadorov openly criticized Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Nikita is originally from Moscow and currently plays as defencemen for the Calgary Flames.
“I’m sorry for all the young guys. I’m sorry. Instead of raising the new generation, we sent them to die," Zadarov said.
Zadarov is the only Russian NHL player to publicly speak out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. According to Hockey News, Zadarov understands not everyone in his situation is comfortable being as outspoken for various reasons, but that he doesn't allow this to deter his actions.
“I’m definitely aware of the consequences I’m going to get. I probably can’t go back to my Motherland, where I grew up, my city where I grew up, and I’m OK with that,” Zadarov said.
“I know how it works over there. It’s gonna be big propaganda, TV channels are going to be talking about me, and be pushing the agenda, saying, ‘He’s brainwashed by the West,’ that kind of thing. They’ll say I’m watching CNN too much or something, but I don’t. It’s a clear view. You see bad and you see good things, and that’s my opinion.”
“I think people should get educated on what’s going on in their country. I think athletes, especially hockey players in this league, have a great voice, and I think they shouldn’t be afraid to speak up."
The Calgary-based player explained further that athletes based in Russia wearing uniforms emblazoned with insignia of the Russian army, for example, could be removed from the team if they speak out against the symbols.
Zadorov stated that these players live in a world in which "you have to step on your moral principles in order to do what you like.”
“I think people should get educated on what’s going on in their country. I think athletes, especially hockey players in this league, have a great voice, and I think they shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. Obviously, there’s some guys who don’t want to lose the right to go back to Russia, they still have family, and some guys are afraid for their family, that something will happen to them. There’s a lot of things going on. There’s a harder situation going on in the country compared to Canada and the United States.”
Finally, Zadarov emphasized his distaste for Western conceptions of Russian response to the war.
“I don’t like how people are reacting here. They’re putting all the Russians in the same box. I think that’s unfair...There’s a lot of people who have the same view as me in Russia, and I’m 100 percent sure there’s millions of people who have the same view. They just can’t do anything. … They have no chance to leave the country and find a good job here, work here, make money, feed their families. I’m really fortunate to have the right to be here.”