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Police arrest 24 after Zenit-Anzhi violence

United States America,Sports, Thu, 11 Oct 2012 IANS

St. Petersburg, Oct 11 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Twenty-four people have been arrested in raids after Zenit St. Petersburg fans beat up supporters of Anzhi and attacked a bus.

The incident shone a spotlight on ethnic tensions between fans of North Caucasus-based clubs such as Anzhi and those from other parts of Russia.

Around 30 people reportedly attacked and beat up three fans of Anzhi in a St. Petersburg fast-food restaurant on Aug 22, as well as throwing flares into the restaurant and a nearby bus.

Three days earlier, Zenit and Anzhi had played out a 1-1 draw in Makhachkala.

The arrests were made in raids across the city on Oct 10, prosecutors said Wednesday. The investigation focuses on the offence of hooliganism which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

Zenit fans have a record of racist behaviour at matches and involvement in racist attacks. Former coach Dick Advocaat has said that the supporters' attitudes were the reason Zenit is the only major Russian club never to have signed a black player.

The Anzhi fans involved in the clash were reportedly on their way to see their team play AZ Alkmaar in a Europa League match in Moscow.

At the match, Anzhi fans were subjected to racist abuse from supporters of Moscow teams angry at Anzhi using Lokomotiv Moscow's stadium for the match.

European football's governing body UEFA banned Anzhi from hosting European games at their home ground for security reasons.

After the violence in St. Petersburg, local police and community leaders from St. Petersburg's Dagestani community met to calm tensions.

Dagestan is one of Russia's poorest regions and has a lengthy record of terrorist attacks, prompting many to migrate to cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg.--IANS/RIA Novosti

ss/vt



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