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Kremlin refrains from comments on Russian footballer’s Putin shirt at match in Turkey

February 17, 13:38 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian footballer Dmitry Tarasov took off his team’s jersey revealing a T-shirt with the portrait of Putin captioned "The most polite president"
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Dmitry Tarasov

Dmitry Tarasov

© AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

MOSCOW, February 17. /TASS/. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the incident involving a Russian professional footballer, who exposed a tee-shirt with the image of President Vladimir Putin after his Lokomotiv Moscow club’s match against Turkey’s Fenerbahce FC on Tuesday’s night in Istanbul.

Following the final siren in the first leg match of the UEFA Europa League Round of Last 32 between Lokomotiv and Fenerbahce, held at Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul, Russian club’s footballer Dmitry Tarasov took off his team’s jersey revealing a T-shirt with the portrait of Putin captioned "The most polite president."

"I would rather not be making any statements about football affairs," Peskov told journalists.

The match ended with the 2-0 Fenerbahce victory over Lokomotiv. Both goals were scored by Fenerbahce’s defensive midfielder Souza in the 18th and 72nd minutes of the match.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) may now subject Tarasov to sanctions as disciplinary regulations of the Europe’s governing body of football strictly prohibit any sort of ideological, political or religious manifestations during matches.

The second leg encounter of the Round of 32 between Lokomotiv and Fenerbahce had been scheduled for February 25 in Moscow.

Unprecedented security measures were observed before, during and after Wednesday’s match in Istanbul. Only a single incident was reported during the event, when Fenerbahce’s fans hurled objects at a bus carrying Lokomotiv’s fans.

The incident took place before the match, when the bus arrived at the stadium, but Turkish police, which provided escort for Russian fans, promptly thwarted the assault and detained three fans of Fenerbahce football club.

Lokomotiv played an away UEFA Europa League’s match against Besiktas FC in November, when numerous violent clashes of fans with police were reported before and after the match. Turkish police was not reported to escort Russian football fans at that time.

The issue of security during the match between the Russian and Turkish football clubs was also in particular focus as relations between the two countries had been recently strained.

Russia-Turkey tensions

Relations between Russia and Turkey soured after an F-16 fighter jet from the Turkish Air Force shot down on November 24 a Russian Su-24M bomber, which was on anti-terrorism mission over Syria. Ankara claims the Su-24M bomber violated the Turkish air space in the area of the border with Syria, while Moscow maintains that the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory.

On November 28, the Russian president signed a decree on measures to ensure Russia’s national security and protect Russian citizens from criminal and other illegal actions and on the use of special economic measures in respect of Turkey.

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