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Friday, October 26, 2007

Russia the Graceful Winner Shows its Classy Side

Bleacher Report reviews the aftermath of the Russia-England soccer match in Moscow:

Everyone knows what kind of country Russia is—but no one wants to learn about it firsthand. Some England supporters were unlucky enough to do just that before and after their club's October 17th match against Russia in Moscow. Multiple reports indicate that English fans were attacked. Some stories suggest the English supporters started the problems; others indicate that they were innocent victims.

Where lies the truth?

My basic knowledge of the Russian language has allowed me to glean some interesting insights from Russian media websites. Many of them contradict each other, with estimates of injuries ranging from zero to six to 15. Russian police have made more than 15 (!) statements on the subject, but none of them contained official injury numbers. Reports from hospital officials indicate that there were indeed injuries sustained—and that they were consistent with an assault or a fight. The UK Embassy in Moscow has appealed to Russian police to bring the guilty parties to justice. No arrests have been made.

But all that is just the official side of the story.

The Russian Internet (RUNet, as it’s called) hosts a number of football forums. Normally these forums are fueled by club rivarlies—but at the moment the attention is focused on the English attacks.

And the revelations are shocking.

There are graphic descriptions of the assaults, some of which saw bicycle chains used as weapons. Some postings have titles like “That day I’ve beaten 12 English supporters!”—with the behavior encouraged by other users. People say that English fans are boors—and maybe some of them are. But they deserve better than this. Many of the comments on the Russian sites are racist in character—and would be illegal in most European countries. In Russia, though, it appears that anything goes. Consider the facts: People were assaulted, beaten, and injured—and no one was charged, much less found guilty.

So much for the rule of law.


Anonymous said...

"Many of the comments on the Russian sites are racist in character—and would be illegal in most European countries."

It only means that there's more freedom of speech in Rusia than in those countries, doesn't it?

La Russophobe said...

No, your understanding is rather crude. Russia would have free speech if there were lots of websites which were allowed to speak against racism and the failure of Vladimir Putin to speak out against it. It's not free speech to allow people to say things you agree with -- and the Russian regime agrees with racism.