Kokorin and Mamaev – Four months, no sentence, no end in sight?

Kokorin and Mamaev in the dock at one of many hearings they have faced | RIA Novosti

Russian football stars Aleksandr Kokorin and Pavel Mamaev have spent over four months in jail after their double assault in October. The two of them will remain in custody until at least April 8th while they still wait for a court decision on a verdict and the punishment they may face. While held, Mamaev even played football for the Butyrka jail five-a-side team, scoring seven times in a match that ended 8-7.

Their experience was the most talked about news story for weeks and the whole country has been discussing Kokorin and Mamaev’s actions. At first, it seemed that almost everyone wanted them to face time in prison to pay for their history of obnoxious behaviour. The alleged double assault is just the tip of the iceberg, as the pair have a history of carrying out extreme misdemeanours. Most notably, camera footage revealed the pair throwing a lavish party and spending huge sums of money on champagne while playing the national anthem following Russia’s humiliating group stage elimination from Euro 2016.

However, after such a prolonged case, the nation’s mood may have changed. The opinion that they may not be as bad has risen and many suggest that they should be allowed to wait for the decision under home arrest. There have certainly been far worse offences committed in Russia, of which people were placed under home arrest or finally freed.

Let’s consider some things about the case and and the two footballers:

  • Kokorin and Mamaev were allegedly involved in a double assault after a night out while drunk. Kokorin allegedly assaulted a government official, Denis Pak, with a chair at a cafe, while Mamaev allegedly assaulted a driver with a group of friends. Kokorin was not involved in the second incident.
  • Their friends attempted to buy videos of the incident. This tells us a lot, because there may be many cases that do not reach the public eye, likely because victims are not as famous or powerful as Mr. Pak.
  • The case is relatively open and shut (everything was caught on film), but the investigation has been very slow. Why must Kokorin and Mamaev stay in jail for so long? If every case is investigated at such a pace, there would be questions about the efficiency of the process.
  • Mr. Pak and a colleague present during the assault – Sergey Gaisin – who for their role in a new car production factory just after the Kokorin case, and the president’s press secretary had some harsh words about players at the time. The fact the case reached this level of the government is not a good sign for the duo.
  • Despite being skilful players on the pitch, their behaviour outweighs their past involvement with charities.
  • Krasnodar may fine Mamaev millions of dollars due to breaching his contract, and it is unlikely he will play for the club again. It seems that Zenit is supporting Kokorin and are willing to take him back. However, having just returned from a serious long term injury, he will have a big gap in training to fill.
  • Numerous personalities have commented on the case. Zenit insider Gennadiy Orlov said that he didn’t believe they would be released soon while hockey star Artemi Panarin and football player Vyechslav Karavaev both believe the pair will not be sent to prison. Andrey Arshavin said that he hoped they wouldn’t go to prison, while famous Russian TV presenter and commentator Dmitriy Guberniev said that they should be sent to prison and have to retire from football.

What conclusion can we draw from the information above? It seems now that the footballers will either be sentenced to a term in prison, or at least will be held in jail for many months, because of the notoriety and profile of the case. These two are perhaps being treated unfairly due to their fame.

It could be fair to assume that Kokorin and Mamaev won’t be a danger to society after their release like was posited at the time of their initial incarceration. However, a short spell in prison or a long suspended sentence is probably a suitable punishment, give the amount they have already served. A stumbling block is if victims agree with the final decision, and while we do not know their true feelings, it appears that the prosecutors are really gunning for them.

The pair, however, are in a position of trust and responsibility and should have learned by now. The behaviour seems endemic of many of the issues young footballers face upon their ascent to stardom. However, this time it seems they targeted and angered the wrong people in the right places.

Should Kokorin and Mamaev be allowed to play football after jail or prison? It is all they know, and there is arguably no relevant reason to ban them from football as this was an off the pitch incident, unless they were being held up as an example to every other player of course.

In England, Troy Deeney spent three months of a 10-month sentence in prison for assault in 2012 and went on to be a Premier League regular after being welcomed back to Watford with open arms. Kokorin and Mamaev have already spent more time incarcerated than Deeney, and are yet to even receive a sentence. If Deeney was able to resurrect his career, then why not Kokorin and Mamaev?

Note: During his time in prison, Kokorin answered some fans who sent him letters using the jail mail system. As part of the research for this article, we also wrote to him, but we have yet to receive a response.


Author: Timur Kurbanov

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