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Russian diplomats work on return of convicted football fans from France

June 24, 2016, 16:53 UTC+3 PARIS

The Russian Foreign Ministry will be assisting in finding legal tools to take the Russian nationals back home

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PARIS, June 24. /TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry will be implying all efforts to come to an agreement on the return of Russian football fans, convicted earlier in the month in France, as soon as possible, a senior Russian diplomat said on Friday.

A court in Marseille ruled last week to sentence three earlier detained Russian football fans, namely Alexei Yerunov, Sergei Gorbachev and Nikolai Morozov, to prison terms between 12 and 24 months after finding them guilty of taking part in mass disturbances at the 2016 Euro Cup match between England and Russia earlier in the month.

Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ombudsman for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov said he discussed the issue of returning the Russian nationals back home during his meeting on Friday with Ambassador on human rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay.

"We will be assisting in finding legal tools, which would provide for the return of the Russian nationals back home as soon as possible," Dolgov said.

The diplomat also said he hoped that France "will be dealing with this issue in line with the spirit of the Russian and French bilateral relations as well as the international regulations."

All sentenced Russians are of the age between 28 and 33 years. French La Marseillaise daily reported last week that Yerunov was handed a two-year prison term, while Gorbachev and Morozov were sentenced to 18 months and 12 months in prison respectively.

Numerous clashes were reported between football fans at the major European football tournament, currently underway in France. Most notorious altercations erupted between Russian and English fans ahead of the June 11th match. Brawls began on June 9 in Marseille peaking at the match day.

Law enforcement resorted to tear gas, smoke pellets and water cannons to disperse the brawlers. Over 30 people were reported to be hurt in clashes, with four people hospitalized after sustaining severe injuries.

On June 14, French law enforcers stopped a bus with over 43 Russian football fans en-route from Marseille to Lille, where their national team played its second group stage match against Slovakia.

Yerunov, Gorbachev and Morozov were among the Russian supporters from the bus after they were all officially detained for 48-hour period and returned to Marseille, where they were investigated on the issue of their involvement in the skirmishes with English hooligans.

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