MOSCOW, February 11 (R-Sport) - Figure skating star Evgeni Plushenko has made a formal complaint to police of slander following a TV commentator’s claims that he faked surgery on a recent injury, the seven-time European champion’s lawyer said Monday.
Plushenko withdrew from the European championships in Zagreb last month because of injury after finishing sixth in the short program, and his coach Alexei Mishin said the skater had a back disc replacement at a clinic in Israel.
On Saturday, Eurosport commentator Andrei Zhurankov said on air that Plushenko had faked the surgery for public relations purposes, saying the news of the operation had been disseminated in a similar way to “a PR action in showbiz.” Plushenko told R-Sport the commentator’s claim was an “insult” and vowed to “fight for my honor and dignity.”
“Evgeni has today filed an application at the police department regarding defamation and the prosecution of Andrei Zhurankov, commentator on the Eurosport 2 TV channel,” Plushenko’s lawyer Tatiana Akimtseva said.
“[Plushenko] provided an explanation and offered evidence that Zhurankov’s comments were lies and slander.”
She added that Zhurankov had not apologized to Plushenko and that she expected the police to start investigations Monday and question the commentator in the near future.
In comments to R-Sport on Sunday, Zhurankov said he stood by his comments and did not consider them slanderous.
Slander has been a criminal offence in Russia since July, when President Vladimir Putin reversed its decriminalization in December 2012 by then-President Dmitry Medvedev.
The offence carries a maximum fine of five million rubles ($165,000).
Allegations that the injury was faked had earlier surfaced in unsourced reports in the Israeli media last month. Plushenko's wife denounced the Israeli claims and posted photographs on the Internet of Plushenko lying in a hospital bed.