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Lavrov calls detention of bus with Russian fans in France ‘unacceptable’

June 15, 14:09 UTC+3
Russian Foreign Minister urged French authorities not to ignore provocateurs insulting Russian fans
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MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. The detention by French law enforcers of a bus near Cannes carrying Russian football fans is unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"This is an absolutely unacceptable incident when a bus with more than 40 Russian fans was stopped, they were forced to leave the bus for document checks," Lavrov said during the "government hour" at Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

"France’s authorities were obliged to inform our embassy and the consulate general in Marseille at that very moment when they carried out the detention, but this was not done," he said.

The minister said Russia’s embassy staff found out about the incident only through social networks. "They immediately came to the incident scene, and could defuse the situation and establish dialogue," Lavrov said.

Lavrov said he has sent a message to his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault in connection with the incident. "The French acted in violation with all commitments under the Vienna Convention - this is a fact. I have already sent a respective message to the foreign minister of France demanding not to let similar violations occur again."

He also called the behavior of some Russian fans who bring flare guns to the matches unacceptable. "All this is absolutely prohibited," he said. "At the same time, we cannot put a blind eye to the fact that they try to ignore the absolutely provocative actions of fans from other countries."

"You might have seen the outrageous TV footage when they trample the Russian flag and shout words insulting the Russian leadership and prominent Russian athletes," he said.

He also said that ignoring provocateurs who try to create a crisis situation is also unacceptable. "Our diplomats will work with the French authorities on a constant basis."

On Tuesday, local law enforcement officials stopped a bus near Cannes carrying representatives of the Union of Russian Fans and other supporters of the Russian football team to Lille to see their home team’s second group stage match with Slovakia. According to the French authorities, there were 43 people on the bus. All of them have been taken into custody to investigate their alleged involvement in last week’s Marseille clashes. Fans of the Russia and England teams clashed after the game on June 11 and more than 30 people were injured.

Kremlin hopes for a fair and equal approach in the investigation

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said on Wednesday that Russia hopes for a fair and equal approach in the investigation of football fans misconduct cases at the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France no matter what national team they support.

"We hope there will be undoubtedly a just investigation into all cases with equally attentive approach to all sides, which could have been involved," the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Peskov, however, refused from expressing opinion on sanctions of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) imposed against the Russian Football Union (RFU) and the national team on Tuesday.

"The championship is underway in it is under a total authority of UEFA, and also, in this particular instance, it is under the responsibility of the French side, which provides the necessary conditions for hosting the tournament," he said.

"We hope there will no more incidents until the end of the championship," Peskov added.

"The most important thing now is that nothing and no one impedes the performance of our team at the championship," he told reporters. "So that we could really support our football players."

Commenting on the statement by the French sports minister who supported the possible disqualification of the Russian national team at Euro 2016, Peskov said that his words "can hardly be called friendly."

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