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16 Feb, 2017 19:11

‘Barefaced lies’: Russian football fan on BBC documentary British press reports

A Russian football fan who featured in a BBC 2 documentary, ‘Russia’s Hooligan Army,’ has told RT how his words were “grossly misinterpreted” by the British press.

The former leader of the Spartak Moscow supporters group ‘Spartak Gladiators,’ Vasily Stepanov, who appeared in the BBC 2 documentary into hooliganism in the country as ‘Vasily the Killer,’ claimed the media outlets in Britain misconstrued his words in the film.

“Yes, I did participate in the film, but I'm amazed at how they twist my words in the media now,” Stepanov told RT.

“I haven’t seen the movie itself, though. I’ve only read an article about it in (British newspaper) the Guardian, which I call a ‘smear campaign.’ The part about ‘Putin’s military forces in Marseille’ is a barefaced lie.

“I’d never say that. I knew who I was talking to, and what kind of answers they were looking for.”

Stepanov also accused the media of not being able to discern the irony in some of the things he told them.

“I afforded myself a little irony. I don’t know if they understand that humor. The interview was rather sarcastic from my side, to be honest.”

He also said that the documentary filmmaker Alex Stockley von Statzer, who spoke to him via an interpreter, came across as a “sincere person”, while Stepanov was assured his words would be translated correctly without being misconstrued. 

“But I am not surprised. It just feels like a deja vu," Stepanov said.

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“Last summer I was in my holiday home just outside of Moscow with my wife, who was expecting our fifth child, when I learned from British media that I am actually in Marseille and supervising the clashes of the Russian fans.

“Honestly, I won’t even be surprised if they make me a boogieman for little kids in England.“

Stepanov also told RT on the phone that his interview with the BBC had been a lot less headline-grabbing than it turned out in the final cut.

“We spoke about my past activities as a fan, additionally the BBC journalists asked me to comment on the incidents in Marseille. I told them that it was a total failure on the part of the organizers and the police,” he said.

“They also asked me about the upcoming World Cup in Russia, I said to them that Russia always welcomes foreigners and that people from Britain have nothing to be afraid of,” Stepanov added.

‘We thought it was a joke’

Another fan featured in the BBC documentary told RT that the filmmakers misinterpreted their sarcastic jokes, presenting them as facts.

The young man was filmed after a football match in the city of Orel, 360 kilometers south-southwest of Moscow.

“I agreed to the interview, but I never thought that it would turn out into such a provocation against Russia. We didn’t take it seriously. It was more like a joke,” he said.

The fan also revealed that the BBC journalists specially asked the supporters to put on masks and balaclavas ahead of the interview “probably, to make it scarier.”

‘Film feels like hype’

RT went to London pubs to ask the British fans if the BBC documentary was enough to deter them from travelling to Russia for the FIFA World Cup next year.

One of the pub-goers said that the film felt like propaganda, with his friend adding that “right now it’s just an attempt to create some hype.”

“We’ve got enough hooligans around the world. It’s not just Russia. It’s not just England. But there’s a lot about Russia that would make me oppose going to the World Cup anyway,” one of the fans said.

Another man, to whom the BBC footage was shown, suggested that “this isn’t really the majority of Russians. I think that Russia would have some sort of the security there.”

Russian fans make welcome video

In response to the BBC film, Russian fans have recorded an address to their British counterparts, welcoming them to the World Cup and reminding them that all of the English Premier League top teams have visited Russia in recent years, and no serious incidents between the fans were reported.

“We’ll meet you like relatives. You won’t have to pay for anything, but you won’t be able to leave without having a few shots with us,” the Russian fans said.

The documentary is scheduled was broadcast on BBC 2 on Thursday at 9pm (GMT).