Russian authorities provided French police with the names of only 33 potential hooligans before Euro 2016 and have sent a mere six officers to the tournament to help police it, according to sources in France.
Russia, whose gangs French security services view as the perpetrators of Saturday’s attacks on England supporters in Marseille, was urged to cooperate with the multi-national effort, as attention turned to the prospect of England and Russian fans meeting in Lille. Russia play Slovakia in the northern French town tomorrow and English fans had been encouraged to stay in the same place ahead of the match with Wales in nearby Lens.
A graphic illustration of how inadequate the Russian ‘risk list’ was emerged in Le Figaro newspaper’s disclosure on Tuesday that the Croatian Ministry of Interior provided, by comparison, a list of 326 potentially dangerous hooligans to the French. The French authorities are attempting to remain diplomatic at a time when they need Russian cooperation – but the head of the national police counter-hooliganism division (DNLH) Antoine Boutonnet told Le Figaro: “It’s easy to see these lists have been assembled using different criteria and variable information. There are foreign authorities who refuse to deliver.”
Despite the apparent dearth of Russian officers, British police found those from Russia they were working with at ground level amid the melee of Saturday afternoon’s orchestrated attacks to be excellent professionals, who were experienced and able to pass on high quality information. The Russian officers had left the Euro 2016 international police cooperation centre (CCPI) at Lognes, eastern Paris, and worked on the ground in Marseille, where Mr Boutonnet said there had been 12,000 Russians on Saturday.
Mr Boutonnet said there had been a key failing in the overall intelligence gathering – the absence of agreed criteria between individual police forces ahead of a tournament accessible to more nations than any other in recent years. The same criteria must be agreed on, he said.
Only five Russians have been thrown out of France as a result of Saturday’s violence. It is the English supporters who have already appeared in court whose details feature in today’s French newspapers: a 41-year-old psychiatric nurse and a 20-year-old chef. No Russians are named.
A French official in the Alpes-Maritimes area, Francous-Xavier Lauch, confirmed that authorities were checking the identity of 29 Russian supporters at a hotel near Marseille to see if they were on a list of fans that are “considered a risk”.
The Marseille chief prosecutor Brice Robin said that 150 of the Russian hooligans were “trained in the extreme and prepared for ultra-rapid and ultra-violent operations.” Several estimates from sources at the top of the investigation put that number at 300.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for the French Ministry of Interior, said: “We are relying on the full cooperation of the Russian authorities who, let’s remember, are organising the 2018 World Cup.”
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