Euro 2016: Russian FM blames England supporters for provocation

Media captionA French prosecutor says there were around 150 Russian “hooligans” who travelled to Marseille “well-prepared for violence”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said it is impossible to ignore “outrageous provocations” by England football fans at the Euro 2016 tournament in France.

Russia was given a fine and suspended disqualification following violence at the Russia-England match on Saturday.

Mr Lavrov also lashed out at a French police operation which stopped a bus carrying Russian fans on Tuesday.

Officials say 43 fans were arrested, and some will be deported.

Mr Lavrov told parliament that overall it was unacceptable to behave as some Russian fans did, in taking flares to a game of football.

But he complained there was an attempt to ignore violence by others.

“We cannot close our eyes to the absolutely provocative actions by supporters from other countries,” he said.

“You have probably seen the outrageous images on TV when the Russian flag is getting stamped on,” he said, referring to images of an England fan jumping on a Russian flag.

“You certainly should not respond with force but we cannot ignore those provocateurs”, he added.

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Image caption

French police stop a coach carrying Russia fans

‘Absolutely unacceptable’

He was also indignant about the treatment of Russian fans by French police.

They blamed 150 “well-trained” Russian hooligans for clashes before England played Russia in Marseille at the weekend.

A bus carrying fans was stopped in a police operation near Cannes on Tuesday, and some of those Russia supporters are now being deported.

“It was an absolutely unacceptable incident,” Mr Lavrov said, referring to the arrests.

English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke expressed “serious concerns” about security in the city of Lille, where England fans and Russian supporters are set to gather over the next three days.

Russia play Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday, while England fans are expected to gather there ahead of Thursday’s Group B match against Wales in the nearby town of Lens.

On Wednesday, four Russian football fans were being held for questioning in Lille ahead of the Russia-Slovakia match, according to police sources.

Two of them were arrested after being found drunk in a car, while the other two were detained after fighting with English supporters on Tuesday.

French authorities have already pledged to increase security in Lens, deploying 2,400 police, gendarmes, security guards and a riot squad.

Drinking alcohol in the streets has also been banned.

Up to 50,000 England fans are expected in Lens despite the fact that the 35,000-capacity stadium has already sold out.

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