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Lithuanian Minister Says Having World Cup In Russia 'Stupid Idea'

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius (file photo)
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius (file photo)

BRUSSELS -- Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius has called having the World Cup in Russia "a stupid idea," but says that a coordinated EU diplomatic boycott of the soccer championship next month is unlikely.

"It is a stupid idea to have a World Cup in Russia.... It is really not good because in that country everything is politics. Sports, culture, and to make them the center of gravity, attraction, is always good for propaganda," Linkevicius said in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL on May 28 on the sidelines of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

Ten EU countries have qualified for the tournament that kicks off on June 14. According to RFE/RL, there were talks among member states about staging a coordinated diplomatic boycott in the wake of the chemical-weapons attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England in March.

After that attack, the United Kingdom and Iceland announced that no government ministers would attend the World Cup. But Linkevicius said that a unified response from the bloc remained unlikely.

"I don't think it will be a written policy on something like that, but more comments on that so I hope at least the behavior will be more or less coordinated. But it is very difficult to say because not everyone is sharing this view," he said.

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