Anna Kasterova, wife of ice hockey star Evgeni Malkin, has defended her husband after criticism over his decision to take dual Russian-American citizenship, claiming it does not mean he has turned his back on his motherland.

It was first reported in October of last year that Pittsburgh Penguins star Malkin had taken a US passport alongside his Russian one, having played in America since 2006.

“It’s my second home. I’m here 14 years. Maybe [my son will] go to school [here],” Malkin was quoted as saying at the time. 

The issue did not appear to sit well with some online who criticized the player for the step – but wife Kasterova has now defended the forward.

“[The criticism] is very sad. Zhenya is a patriot of Russia and his hometown of Magnitogorsk. He helps a lot of people from this country,” TV presenter-turned-journalist Kasterova told Sport-Express. 

“We had a hopeless situation – we had to sign [for citizenship]. It wasn’t a case of, ‘let’s do it quickly, using contacts’.”

Публикация от Anna Kasterova (@anna_kasterova)17 Дек 2019 в 8:45 PST

Публикация от Anna Kasterova (@anna_kasterova)3 Фев 2020 в 7:42 PST

“We had real circumstances. In the USA there’s 100 percent bureaucracy.

“It doesn’t matter who you are: an incredible NHL player or an assistant to the president – everyone faces the same scenario.

“It was a necessary step. That way, we reduced the deadline for receiving my documents.

“America is now his second home. He works here, makes money. What are we talking about? Did he reject Russia? No.” 

Публикация от Anna Kasterova (@anna_kasterova)27 Май 2020 в 10:41 PDT

Malkin, 33, has spent the whole of his NHL career at the Penguins, helping them to a hat-trick of Stanley Cup titles.

He has also represented Russia at three Olympics – in 2006, 2010 and 2014 – while winning World Championship gold twice with his country (in 2012 and 2014).