Russian fans: photo wikipedia/Roman Kovrigin
A representative of the Russian fans who will be traveling to Poland for the tournament says that the march before an international match is traditional - especially on 12 June, which is a national holiday in Russia.
“Traditionally, the march is accompanied by drums and chants of ‘Forward Russia’,” Ivan Kuznetsov, a spokesman for the Russian All-Union supporters club has told the Polish Super Express daily.
“We also want to organize a march before the match between Russia and Greece on 16 June,” Kuznetsov adds.
He emphasised, however, that there was nothing political about the march. “Sport and politics should not be mixed,” he said.
Poland is in Group A with Russia, Greece and the Czech Republic, with matches being played at Poland’s premier venue for the tournament, Warsaw’s newly opened National Stadium.
Warsaw police have already been informed of the intention of the Russian fans to march before games.
“In the coming days, Metropolitan Police will meet with representatives of the Russian fans. We want to jointly establish a route for the march,” says police spokesman Maciej Karczyński.
It is estimated that around 30,000 Russian fans will be coming to the Polish capital for Euro 2012.
Polish Radio reports that 5,000 visas have already been issued, although many more Russians will be using long-term EU visas.
The Russian national team will be staying at the up-market Hotel Bristol during the tournament.
It is feared that a Polish march on 10 June in commemoration of the 10 April Smolensk disaster, which killed all 96 on board in western Russia including President Lech Kaczynski, could attract anti-Russian nationalists, as the Bristol Hotel is just down the road from the Presidential Palace, the traditional place where the vigil for the air disaster victims takes place.
Some supporters of the late Lech Kaczynski, including his twin brother Jaroslaw, maintain that Russia must hold some of the blame for the Smolensk disaster. (pg)