Israeli figure skater Evgeni Krasnopolsky, 23, was arrested and sent to military prison on charges of desertion, immediately following his return to Israel
Wednesday after competing in the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2011 in Moscow.
Krasnopolsky was sent to the competition to represent Israel by the Science, Culture and Sport Ministry.
He enlisted in the IDF in 2007, and since then has completed two out of three years of mandatory service in an "on and off" capacity. Throughout his service, he also participated in skating competitions and training abroad.
As a member of the Israel Ice Skating Federation, Krasnopolsky was under a strict training regime prepared by the federation and the Science, Culture and Sport Ministry.
In preparation for the world championships, which were meant to take place late March in Tokyo, a request to delay his IDF service for three months was submitted on his behalf so he could take part in a training boot camp prior to the competition.
He was scheduled to return to the military on November 8, however the federation asked the IDF to extend his training period abroad.
"After a long correspondence, the status of the soldier remained unclear until finally an answer was given, two months after Evgeni was supposed to return home," the federation wrote to the Military Advocate General.
"We've asked for clarifications, and if we would have gotten them immediately Evgeni would have returned. The decision to let him stay abroad for training was a professional call made by the federation. The soldier got the (right) impression that we are handling the matter with the IDF and that he could trust the federation," it was stated.
Unfortunately for Krasnopolsky, the earthquake that shook Japan caused the championships to be postponed and relocated to Moscow. They were eventually held from April 24 to May 1.
When Krasnopolsky and his partner, Danielle Montalbano, arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday, he was arrested on charges of desertion by Military Police.
The figure skater's attorney said: "Legally Evgeni was absent from his service without permission, but de facto the agreements were made 'over his head' by officials. They all say it's 'a misunderstanding' or 'mishap', after the Science, Culture and Sport Ministry told him his special vacation to participate in a United States boot camp pending further consideration. According to them, the soldier was convinced he had all the right permits to go abroad."
The IDF spokesman said: "The soldier left the country without military authorization, and not for the first time. Last time he was told that if it were to happen again he would be arrested on charges of desertion, and that's what happened."
Reuven Weiss contributed to this report