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More Than 20 Injured, 184 Arrested After Russian, Polish Fans Clash

  • RFE/RL

Polish authorities say police arrested at least 184 people, most of them Poles, during clashes in Warsaw between Polish and Russian fans before and after the June 12 match between the two nations at Euro 2012.

Officials said more than 20 people were injured in the violence, including police officers and citizens of Poland, Russia, the United States, Germany, and Pakistan.

In addition to nearly 160 Poles who were arrested, those detained included Russians, a Spaniard, a Hungarian, and an Algerian.

A Polish government spokesman said more arrests of suspects are expected as investigators analyze videos of the unrest.

Police used water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets to disperse clashes between the opposing fans before and after the Group A match, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Polish authorities had authorized a march by Russian fans to the stadium, which was to coincide with a Russian national holiday.

City authorities had appealed for calm in Warsaw ahead of the game, and the head of the Russia fan association had said the march would not be political in content.

PHOTO GALLERY: Fans clash ahead of Poland-Russia match
But in a country where resentment of Russia runs deep, things turned violently quickly.

Reports say the march under police escort had proceeded more or less peacefully until it reached a bridge across the Vistula River. There, fights between pockets of rival fans broke out.

Television footage showed several groups of 10 to 15 men scuffling and police helicopters hovering overhead.

Polish riot police were seen dragging people off and firing smoke into the air, as Polish fans chanted, "Russia whore, Russia whore" and, "Hit the red trash with a hammer, with a sickle."

There were also reports of scuffles at a fan zone in Warsaw.

Plus, during the match, Polish police clashed with mainly Polish supporters, who sparked the unrest by throwing objects at police, including rocks, flares, and bottles.

Despite the crowd trouble, fans from both sides appeared satisfied after the match.

"The atmosphere before the match was not very good because of the clashes, but now all is fine. We are having a good time. The result was good. All we need is to go beyond the group," said one male Polish fan after the game.

And despite violence, many Russian fans complimented their Polish hosts.

"Everyone is very hospitable. The fans, they all supported their own team, but it was all friendly. We all supported our own and we parted in a friendly way," said a female Russian supporter.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and Reuters

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