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ANKARA, February 24. /TASS/. Russia’s high-ranking diplomat in Istanbul told TASS on Wednesday there were no problems whatsoever in issuing Russian visas for football fans of Turkey’s Fenerbahce FC travelling to Moscow for their club’s away match against Lokomotiv FC.
The second leg encounter of the UEFA Europa Cup’s Round of 32 between Lokomotiv and Fenerbahce will be held on February 25 at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow starting at 7:00 p.m. Moscow time (16:00 GMT).
"The club itself did not turn to us regarding visas for its fans," Russian General Consul in Istanbul Andrei Podyeldyshev said in an interview with TASS. "The club only turned to us regarding visas for the team’s players and journalists. They were all issued visas."
"Moreover, we did not register a recent increase in visa applications and the average number of visas issued by us remained almost unchanged," the diplomat added.
The first leg match between both clubs was held February 16 in Turkey’s Istanbul with hosts beating the club from Moscow 2-0. Both goals were scored by Fenerbahce’s defensive midfielder Souza in the 18th and 72nd minutes of the match.
Unprecedented security measures were observed before, during and after the match in Istanbul in light of the recently strained ties between the governments of the two countries.
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 measure 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.
Only a single incident was reported during the event, when Fenerbahce’s fans hurled rocks 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.
However, UEFA later announced that it opened disciplinary proceedings against the Russian club after the game in the Turkish capital on charges of "improper conduct of Lokomotiv player Dmitry Tarasov after the match."
Following the final siren in the match, held at Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul last week, Russian club’s footballer Dmitry Tarasov took off his team’s jersey revealing a T-shirt with the picture of Putin captioned "The most polite president."
According to UEFA regulations, players "must not reveal undergarments that show political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising other than the manufacturer logo."