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29 Nov, 2021 11:59

Russian riot police detain hundreds of football fans (VIDEO)

Russian riot police detain hundreds of football fans (VIDEO)

Football bosses have warned that the detainment of hundreds of CSKA Moscow fans over pyrotechnic displays during their side's game with Zenit will damage the sport in Russia – with hackers blamed for CCTV cameras being turned off.

A late goal from Alexander Mostovoy sealed a 2-0 win for league leaders Zenit in Moscow, but that was far from being the last dramatic moment in the Russian capital as a section of CSKA supporters were detained in the stadium for up to an hour after the final whistle before mass arrests were made by riot police for a string of offenses which allegedly took place during the game.

Footage from the match shows that large flares were set off by fans which plumed smoke around the stadium, although that didn't prompt the fixture to be interrupted. 

Security cameras which are usually focused on supporters were discontinued from the 57th minute of the match, with Russian Premier League (RPL) President Ashot Khachaturyants blaming the camera failure on hackers.

"So far we have not been able to get a report from the police on yesterday's actions," Khachaturyants told Match TV.

"It is only clear that it was a planned hacker attack that turned off the cameras."

When the order was given to allow CSKA supporters to leave the VEB Arena, police vans were reportedly lined up to detain hundreds of fans.

According to reports from the scene, each van could hold 30 people and when one became full, another would pull up to gather more supporters. 

Men were searched, detained and taken to nearby police stations, while women and children were released. According to one man quoted by Championat, they were not adequately told of the reasons for their detention.

"Nobody understood – everyone was imprisoned," he said, via translation. "But they were escorted to the paddy wagon calmly, without any rudeness.

"The reasons have not yet been communicated to us. We are sitting in the department, it is warm here. We are waiting – the passports were taken away."

According to reports, 51 reports of 'administrative offences' have been levied at CSKA fans by authorities related to the illegal use of pyrotechnics, the consumption of alcohol in prohibited spaces, petty hooliganism and evasion of arrest.

Under article 20.31 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation, fans found to have engaged in illegal activities face a fine of between $40 and arund $267, 160 hours of community service and administrative arrest for up to 15 days. They could also be subject to a ban from attending sporting events for between six months and seven years. 

A statement from the Fratria group – Spartak's largest fan association – criticized "mass unreasonable detentions of people" and "suddenly non-working cameras"

“Regarding the mass arrests after the match between CSKA and Zenit, we can only note with regret that personal responsibility – which we were promised with cameras, personal passes and fan ID – remains an empty phrase," it said.

"The absence of normal conditions during detention in 2021 in Moscow are apparently the norm for the police and the RPL. But they are not the norm for us."

Alexander Shprygin, the President of the All-Russian Association of Supporters, told RB: "I don’t deal with conspiracy theories, I don’t do magic and I can’t speak of what I don’t know about – but the fact that all the cameras at the moment of the violation were [suddenlty turned off] sounds unusual and significant.

"I am most worried about the fact that it happened on the eve of discussions in the State Duma by the Sports Committee next week of possible amendments to the law on Fan ID [making it compulsory].

"What happened yesterday is, unfortunately, a huge trump card in the hands of those who defend this bill in the form in which it has now been submitted to the Duma.

"And in this form, it largely violates the constitutional rights of all fans in a row. Fans can be refused entry without giving a reason, which is unacceptable."

Former Spartak owner Andrei Chervichenko argued that the introduction of fan ID would help to prevent similar situations from occurring in future.

"They will use the cameras to [identify] those who specifically set off fires and smuggle [pyrotechnics in]," he told Sport24.

"They will probably simply be denied entry to the stadium. If everything is really implemented as [smoothly as] they say... then that is one thing.

"I am far from thinking that fans are detained when they behave [well]. I think that all such situations occur due to the fact that they do unacceptable things; they burn or throw something."

Asked about the presence of women and children in the stands, Chervichenko replied: "I can't say anything about children. Why bring them to the [area] at all? Anything can happen there.

"This is a choice and a problem of those who brought [the pyrotechnics] there. We all know that women can be the ones who carry any ban [as well]. They are the same partners in this fire show."

Chervichenko said the incident would be a major test for the newly-appointed head of the Russian Football Union, Artur Grigoryants.

“The issues that were indicated in the delegate's report will be considered, including the use of pyrotechnics by CSKA fans and chants by fans of both clubs," said Grigoryants, telling TASS that he expected more developments on Tuesday.

The detainments are the latest in a series of incidents at football matches in Russia, leading to a campaign, 'fans aren't criminals', which has united supporters across the country.

Responding with a photo of a campaign flag showing a pai of hands behind bars, a Dynamo Moscow fan group claimed that the incident demonstrated how "neither the RPL nor the clubs need active fans in the stands."

"And without that, from year to year, the falling attendance of the league is aggravated... by the flagrant actions of the law enforcement agencies, which was clearly demonstrated at the match between CSKA and Zenit," it said, adding that the fans had been detained "without evidence of violations".

"After that, what Fan ID can we talk about if the methods and principles of the police work remained at the level of the 90s?

"You can rearrange people in the league offices as much as you like, hold open talks with fans, talk about loyalty to the fan community and so on – but all this is pure dust in the eyes of ordinary people.

"The true face of the league and the attitude towards the fans was demonstrated very clearly.

"We express our solidarity to all the detained [fans]. Guys, we are with you. A fan is not a criminal."

A statement from the RPL said it would "carefully study the incident". "We understand that the presence of law enforcement agencies at stadiums by default is aimed at ensuring security and preventing illegal actions, including the use of pyrotechnics," it said.

"However, at the same time, we believe that in the case of the incident at the VEB Arena, the measures taken by the police obviously violated the comfort and endangered the health of people.

"We state with regret that such events have an extremely negative effect not only on the image of the RPL, but on the whole of Russian football as a whole.

"RPL representatives are now in the arena and are in contact with the competent authorities, doing everything possible to resolve the incident as soon as possible.

"We make every effort to ensure that fans can go home as quickly as possible. Following the events of November 28, the RPL will conduct a thorough investigation and will do everything possible to prevent similar situations in the future."

CSKA Moscow have said they are in contact with law enforcement and are attempting to provide assistance. They also stated that they will provide free legal advice to supporters.

"Unfortunately, for the first time in the history of the VEB Arena, pyrotechnics were used during a match on such a scale," a statement said.

"We condemn those who committed these unlawful acts, but at the same time we believe that the innocent should not suffer. We will continue to contact law enforcement agencies in order to resolve the situation as soon as possible."