Russian hockey player arrested in Poland on espionage charges, officials say

A Russian hockey player in Poland’s top league was arrested earlier this month after officials accused him of belonging to a network of spies paid to gather intelligence, officials said Friday. 

Players face off during an NHL game

Sticks and a puck photographed during a faceoff between the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers April 4, 2008, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The player, identified only as someone playing in Poland’s top league and living in the country since 2021, was arrested June 11, the National Prosecutor’s Office said.  

“In the course of the investigation, it was determined that the detainee was a professional athlete of the first league club,” a translation of the statement from officials said. 


pucks on the ice before the start of an NHL game

Pucks on the ice in warmups prior to the start of a game between the New York Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes Oct. 8, 2005, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.  (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

“In Poland, he carried out activities involving, among others, on identifying critical infrastructure in several (provinces). He kept his clients informed about the results of the reconnaissance, for which he received remuneration. The detained citizen of the Russian Federation has been staying in Poland since October 2021.”

The suspect was believed to have belonged to a network of spies “cooperating with the Russian special services,” officials said. 

He was the 14th suspect detained during the authority’s investigation into that network. 

Poland's justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro

Poland Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, speaks to reporters in Warsaw, Poland, Sept. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

“Russian spies are falling one by one!” said Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister and chief prosecutor. “A spy who operated under the guise of an athlete was caught.”

The hockey player faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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