His native Belarus is wracked by violence. Officially police report detention of 639 people, and the Interior Ministry said some of those arrested face up to 15 years in prison for "organizing mass disturbances." They were accused of protesting on behalf of what President Alexander Lukashenko termed "hare-brained democracy" in the wake of his reelection. Lukashenko was officially declared the winner with 79.7% of the vote after hundreds of riot police stormed Independence Square in central Minsk, Sergei's home town, and dispersed an estimated 20,000 protesters outside the main government building. Many were beaten and at least four of Lukashenko's nine rival presidential candidates were arrested, their aides said.
Life outside Belarus has not been easy for Sergei, as we know. Last year La Presse of Montreal reported that Sergei, along with brother Andrei and defenceman Roman Hamrlik of the Canadiens, had links with Pasquale Mangiola, a member of an organized crime group who was charged with firearms and drugs offenses. La Presse also reported that the three players were not involved in any criminal activities and no investigation against them is planned. Last spring Sergei was effectively cut from the Habs when coach Jacques Martin told him to stay off the ice for morning practice.
Now he is in Nashville on a league minimum contract and has shown glimpses of the talent he displayed during his time in the Ontario Hockey League and in world competition. He appears to subscribe to the "Predator way" of hockey.
It's part of our tradition here in Nashville to welcome strangers, particularly those who require a little extra understanding, so this Christmas send a good wish to Sergei Kostitsyn.