What will Russia say on hockey's darkest day?

What will Russia say on hockey's darkest day?. 45336.jpegThe air crash near Yaroslavl that killed 43 people, became one of the most important topics today. The tragedy touched upon several countries at once because there were foreign nationals in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club. Many of today's publications on the subject in foreign media are presumably devoted to the victims of the crash and to the state of affairs in the Russian aviation.

The air crash in Russia became a tragedy for Canada. Lokomotiv's head coach Brad McCrimmon, a Canadian, is one of the victims of the crash. He used to be one of the leading NHL players during the 1980s. He also worked as an assistant to many teams of the world's leading league. Needless to say that hockey is sport No. 1 for Canada. Many Lokomotiv players were playing in the NHL and were adored in Canada.

Canada's The Globe and Mail quoted Fred Shero, a prominent Canadian ice hockey player.

"Hockey," Shero wrote, "is where we live, where we can best meet and overcome pain and wrong and death. Life is just a place where we spend time between games."

"But it sure feels odd today. Life and its inseparable partner death have taken on new meaning for hockey in these weeks between seasons, let alone between games," Canadian journalists said.

Another Canadian newspaper, The Toronto Star, brought down a severe sentence on the Russian aviation. "The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash is just the latest blemish on Russia's aviation safety record - already the worst in the developed world...The accident was Russia's eighth fatal plane crash this year, bringing the 2011 death toll to 120. By comparison, seven people have died in three fatal crashes in the U.S. this year," the newspaper wrote.

"Critics say the country's shoddy safety record is due to regional airlines' use of aging, Soviet-era planes, lax enforcement of safety regulations for charter operators, and "greedy" airline managers who sacrifice training for profits," Canadian journalists said with references to both Canadian and Russian pilots.

Germany, which is not a country of hockey really, was also affected with the tragedy in Yaroslavl. Robert Dietrich of Germany was on board the Yak-42. The German press published the biography of the young man, whose family moved to the motherland of their ancestors from Kazakhstan.

Die Tageszeitung newspaper paid attention to a series of failures, which took place in Russia during the recent years. Russia has had a number of failures with all possible kinds of aircraft, the newspaper said. Several satellites were lost in space on their way to the International Space Station. One of them crashed in the Asian part of Russia. Glonass navigational satellite did not reach calculated orbit. The launch of the Bulava intercontinental missile ended with a failure too, the German newspaper said.

Unfortunately, this list is not complete.

Sweden is one of the leaders of world hockey. Yesterday, the country lost the goalkeeper of the national team, Stefan Liv.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet harshly criticized the Russian aviation. "Yak-42D has killed 562 people. This plane is more dangerous than others. The risk for a serious breakdown for Yak-42D is four or seven times higher than for other aircraft," the newspaper said. The Swedish journalists also wrote that Yak-42D planes are not allowed to fly above the European Union.

The crash near Yaroslavl became a huge tragedy for the Czech Republic. The country lost Josef Vasicek, Jan Marek and Karel Rachunek. Hundreds of people came to a central square in Prague carrying candles and flowers. All Czech publications said that the players had small children.

The Pravo newspaper quoted late Jan Marek, who used to play for Russia's Metallurg. (Magnitogorsk). "I was praying every time I was on board not to be scared," the man said.

Perhaps, the most famous of Lokomotiv players was the captain of the Slovakian team, Pavol Demitra. He was one of the leading strikers of the NHL for 15 years. He was an idol for many Slovaks - the "Slovak Wayne Gretzky." A sea of candles can be seen on the squares in Bratislava. Demitra's photos can be found on the front pages of all newspapers of the country.

The Slovak SME newspaper published an interview with Vladimir Vujtek, a retired ice hockey player. Unlike his colleagues, Mr. Vujtek did not complain of the Yak-42. When asked whether he was afraid to fly such planes, he answered: "No, never. Everything was always fine, we all were fine during the flights. I don't know how that could happen."

Latvia also lost its prominent hockey player. Karlis Skrastins was a long-time captain of the national team. He played hundreds of matches at the NHL. Latvia, a small Baltic state, does not have many well-known players. The crash of the Russian plane became a national tragedy for the country. The parliament of the country started its session with a moment of silence in honor of Skrastins. The residents of Riga bring flowers to the ice arena and to the Russian embassy.

Ukraine lost three hockey players in the crash: Alexander Vyukhin, Daniil Sobchenko and Vitali Anikeenko. Strange as it may seem, but the Yaroslavl tragedy is news No. 2 for the majority of Ukrainian newspapers. News No. 1 is the gas dispute, Yulia Tymoshenko, and the fate of the government and the opposition. It seems that the lives of the three hockey players are not that important for this country.

The Yak-42D claimed the life of the best hockey player in the history of Belarus - Ruslan Salei. He was on board the plane together with his colleague Sergei Ostapchuk and coach Nikolai Krivonosov.

It goes without saying that the tragedy in Russia has touched upon the citizens of different countries of the world. The investigation of the reasons of the tragedy will attract enormous international attention. Most likely, it will become a political issue. The sitting governments of Canada, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Latvia can not be referred to as pro-Russian. But Russia will have to listen. Those countries have all rights to know why their people were killed.

Vadim Trukhachev


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov