Russian hooligans unleashed
308 violent fans cleared to attend games...just in time for World Cup
ONE brandishes a hunting rifle, others flares. Some are masked, but all these hooligans have one thing in common – they brought terror and violence to football in Russia.
Astonishingly, however, authorities have now cleared them all to attend World Cup matches.
Hundreds of banned thugs have seen their stadium exclusion orders for threatening behaviour and lighting flares expire and Russian judges have allowed them back into grounds.
Figures released by the Russian authorities show a total of 308 hooligans have had bans expire in the past 12 months and will be free to attend the tournament which kicks off today.
Among them is Artyom Koluzayev, 22, a member of the hardcore Kollektiv 18 ultra gang. He was pictured on social media holding a Saiga semi-automatic hunting rifle.
His six-month ban for bringing two ‘explosive devices’ into a stadium ended on June 1, when his confiscated ‘ pyrotechnical’ gear was returned to him by order of a judge.
Fearsome Spartak Moscow fan, 23-year-old Andrei Volkov is free to go to matches despite posting a picture of himself with lit flares on a terrace and on a train.
St Petersburg-based Maksim Taurin, 22, can also attend games despite setting fire to a flag, scarf and T-shirt in a crowded stadium last year, endangering other fans.
Hooligan Dmitry Anikin, 22, from Ryazan, western Russia, is also free to go to matches when his ban expires on June 30.
The revelations came as an England football fan was robbed and beaten in Moscow ahead of the tournament. He was set upon by five Russians in the city centre on Monday and forced to withdraw cash from an ATM.
About 10,000 England fans are expected to travel to Russia this month and they have been advised to stay in their hotel rooms should violence erupt nearby.
Meanwhile, in Britain more than 1,200 troublemakers with a history of football-related disorder have been subjected to banning orders so they cannot travel to Russia for the World Cup. The Football Banning Orders Authority (FBOA) ordered 1,312 banned individuals who hold a passport to surrender them to police last week.
The latest Home Office figures released yesterday revealed that forces in England and Wales have accounted for 1,254 passports.
Police will hold the passports until the World Cup final on July 15. Breaching a banning order is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £5,000 and a six-month prison sentence.
Gay fans have been warned not to hold hands or show affection in public as this could be dangerous.
In an incident last weekend a gay French supporter travelling with his boyfriend was left with serious injuries in St Petersburg, the closest city to England’s training base in Repino.
The victim, named only as O Davrius by Russian media, suffered head and brain injuries and a fractured jaw fracture.
The incident happened when the pair mistakenly got into a car they thought was a licensed taxi.
The attackers were detained and named as Ismet Gaidarov, 25, and Rasul Magomedov, 24, both from Dagestan, a mainly Muslim republic in the Caucasus.
Five years ago Russia passed a ‘gay propaganda’ law prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality and attacks against LBGT people are common in the country.
A UK police delegation is now in Russia to work with their local counterparts in a bid to ensure a trouble-free tournament for visiting England fans. Mark Roberts, the National Lead for Football policing, said last night: ‘Over the past 30 years the UK has made steady progress in eradicating the behaviour of those intent on engaging in football-related violence and disorder.’
The Kremlin has vowed there will
be no repeat of the ugly Battle of Marseilles scenes at Euro 2016 when English and Russian fans clashed in street battles.
Afterwards president Vladimir Putin joked: ‘I don’t know how 200 fans could hurt several thousand Englishmen.’
A BBC documentary last February, called Russia’s Hooligan Army, showed one group of hooligans promising to unleash a ‘festival of violence’ on British fans. Some 539 yobs are still on the Russian government’s banned blacklist.
Welcome to Russia: Andrey Volkov has seen his stadium ban lifted despite being a trouble-maker, top, as has flare-wielding Dmitry Anikin, bottom left, and Maksim Taurin
Free to attend: Artyom Koluzayev brandishes a hunting rifle