Tuesday, Putin was at the eighth annual *Combat Sambo tournament held in Sochi, Russia. Team Russia defeated the world team with a final score of 7-3. There were 10 fights between the best athletes of the sport.
Putin was joined in the stands by Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, and a group of current and former NHL stars including Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Pavel Bure.
Putin warmly greeted Ovechkin as he arrived in the arena, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with the Russian machine.
Ovechkin sat beside Medvedev and was two seats away from Putin during the match.
Earlier in the day, Ovechkin sat with Malkin as the two traveled to Sochi together with Kremlin pool reporters.
Звезды хоккея летят с нами в Сочи. Овечкин на наш вопрос, пользуется ли чашками, подаренными Путиным на свадьбу: "вернул обратно". Шутит?😎 pic.twitter.com/xX15UJRjZz
— Кремлевский пул РИА (@Kremlinpool_RIA) August 8, 2017
The translated tweet from RIA says: “Our hockey stars are flying to Sochi with us. Ovechkin responding to question if he is using that tea set Putin gave him as wedding gift: ‘I returned it.’ Is he joking?”
Putin, as you’ll recall, gave Ovechkin and his wife Nastya the fancy gift after they got married in July.
This continues Ovechkin’s Summer of Putin. After already being friends before, the politically “neutral” Ovechkin attended a Putin town hall event in June to try and ask the former KGB member a question about Dynamo Moscow. At the time, Ovechkin’s former KHL team was going through a takeover by Dynamo Society and had not paid its players in three months.
During Ovechkin’s wedding, Putin sent a cable that was read aloud during the reception and called personally to congratulate the couple. Ovechkin has showed up at several government sponsored events, including teaming up with Malkin and several high-ranking government officials for Russia’s Night Hockey League.
Putin, of course, is a controversial figure. He has been condemned internationally for annexing Crimea, propping up the Assad regime in Syria (which has gassed its own people), and interfering in the United States’ 2016 presidential election.
*Sambo is a sport invented by Soviets as the answer to foreign martial arts. The word is an acronym in Russian for self-defense without a weapon.
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