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Russian police may accompany FC Zenit to match in Belgium — club official

December 02, 2015, 16:26 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Ghent Mayor Daniel Termont said earlier he would ban the Russian club’s fans from attending the match to prevent possible clashes with local Turks amid aggravated relations between Russia and Turkey
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© Artyom Korotayev/TASS

MOSCOW, December 2. /TASS/. Two policemen from Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, may accompany local players of FC Zenit to a Champions League match in Belgium, the football club’s deputy security director told TASS on Wednesday.

Some 1,500 Zenit fans are expected to attend the match with KAA Ghent on December 9. The Belgian city has a large Turkish diaspora.

"We are holding talks with the Interior Ministry and would like to bring St. Petersburg policemen to cooperate with local law enforcers," Yuri Fedotov said.

Ghent Mayor Daniel Termont said earlier he would ban the Russian club’s fans from attending the match to prevent possible clashes with local Turks amid aggravated relations between Russia and Turkey. It was decided later, however, to admit Zenit fans to the game after Ghent consulted with football union UEFA and police.

Some 200,000 Turkish migrants currently live in Belgium, 50% of them residing in Ghent and Antwerp.

Relations between Russia and Turkey hit a low after the incident on November 24 when a Turkish F-16 fighter jet brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber, which, Ankara alleges, violated the country’s airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory and had never violated Turkey’s airspace.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Turkey’s attack will have "serious consequences" for Russian-Turkish relations. Putin said Ankara’s attack against the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 plane, which took part in Russia’s antiterrorism operation in Syria and did not present a threat to Turkey, was a "stab in Russia’s back" delivered by terrorists’ accomplices.

Late last month, Putin signed a decree on a provisional ban on employing Turkish citizens in Russia as of January 1, 2016. The same decree suspends visa-free traveling between the two countries and imposes restrictions on the imports of certain commodities from Turkey.

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