Yesterday’s events in Moscow have become the major subject for all Russian media outlets. It seems that the pogrom was a shock for everyone: for the police, for the Moscow government, and for Muscovites. Only the Japanese embassy was ready for it: the embassy called its nationals before the match and asked them not to go out in the streets of Russian cities in the evening in the event that the Japanese squad won the game with Russia. As it turned out, such a request was not made for nothing, as several Japanese students were reportedly beaten up in Moscow after the match was over.
It deems that fans go wild not only in Russia. Let’s leave England alone, as they have been suffering from this problem for 15 years already. Britons have achieved certain progress in this respect, but they cannot cope with the problem all the same. Disgusting events happen in other countries of the world too. Football fans of Croatia destroyed several cars after their team won the game against the Italians. Koreans fans broke one of the monitors that was airing the match between Korea and the USA. Japanese fans also went wild, jumping off bridges, breaking shop-windows, etc.
However, all these “heros” are far behind Russian football fans. There is the impression that yesterday’s events were planned by someone in advance. The footage, which was aired on television, showed men fighting in several parts of the Manezhnaya Square at once. This was surely enough for the crowd of young guys between 14-17 years of age to go mad very quickly, taking into consideration the fact that they were drunk on beer and vodka. They started smashing cars and destroying cafes and the windows of the nearest buildings before the match was over. Several cars were set on fire some ten minutes before the final whistle.
Almost all eye-witnesses of the events, journalists, pedestrians, and owners of the destroyed vehicles, shops, and cafes, ask only one question: “Where were the police?” When the matches of the Russian football championship occur, everyone has to go through several rows of police officers in order to come into the stadium and it is impossible to bring in anything dangerous or alcohol. Even if there were are little fights, the police do not hesitate to use their rubber batons. Of course, that does not help to stop the fans, and they fight anyway, but the latest pogrom right in the center of Moscow was really something.
Before the match was aired on the big screen on the square, there were practically no police seen there. The administration of the Moscow Department of Home Affairs claimed that police officers were working like they usually do on Saturdays and Sundays. Maybe, they thought that nothing would happen, which was the case on June 5, when the Russian team won the game with Tunis. However, they could at least guess that there would be a lot more people on the square on Sunday, and the match was a relevant one.
So what do we have now? One person was killed, and some 50 were wounded. The owners of those cars, shops, and cafes that were destroyed are going to sue the Moscow government. There will definitely be personnel changes in the structure of the Moscow Department for Home Affairs.
Premier Mikhail Kasyanov claimed that Russia’s chances to host the World Cup of the year 2008 had worsened considerably. The minister is right: will the FIFA allow the World Cup in a country where police cannot provide security? It would be good if our law-enforcement bodies decide for themselves to exclude anything like this in the future. We wonder what would have happened if Russia had won or at least drawn the game?
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969