The Guardian: Russian officials blame security for problems and praise fighting fans
Russian officials have played down the violence over the weekend in Marseille – and in some cases even praised the fans involved. One top football official said the hooligans had defended the country’s honour and should be forgiven, while a top law enforcement official suggested Europe was “too gay” to know what real men look like.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the fans fighting,” Igor Lebedev wrote on Twitter. “Quite the opposite, well done lads, keep it up!”
Lebedev, who sits on the executive committee of the Russian football union, is an MP from the nationalist Liberal Democratic party and the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament.
“I don’t understand those politicians and officials who are criticising our fans. We should defend them and then we can sort it out when they come home,” Lebedev wrote in a series of tweets.
Lebedev’s comments were extreme but reflected a general mood of defiance in Russia over the violence. There has been a whisper of condemnation but it has been drowned out by very loud complaints that the apportioning of blame is unfair, with England fans mainly responsible, as well as not a little amount of gloating over the fact that Russia fans supposedly “won” the clashes.
Vladimir Markin, a top official at the country’s investigative committee, scoffed at suggestions that some Russians involved in the violence were hardened fighters who had come especially to fight: “They are surprised when they see a real man looking like a man should. They’re only used to seeing ‘men’ at gay parades,” Markin wrote on Twitter.
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