Poland's Interior Minister said
on Wednesday he hoped courts would severely punish the hooligans
who fought in the streets of Warsaw ahead of Tuesday's football
match against Russia and rejected charges the police were too
slow to act.
The violent clashes between Poles and Russians during a
march by thousands of Russia supporters to the stadium was an
embarrassment for the Polish organisers of Euro 2012 who had
until then presided over a mostly peaceful tournament.
"When it comes to our hooligans, I hope the prosecutors and
especially the courts will be strict and these people will fully
feel the consequences of their antics," Interior Minister Jacek
Cichocki told a news conference.
Police detained 184 people, including 156 Poles and 24
Russians, after several bloody clashes around Warsaw.
During the most violent skirmishes near the stadium after
Russian fans crossed the Vistula river, riot police fired tear
gas and rubber bullets at groups of young men who threw bottles
and flares and later threw punches and kicked some of the
Russian marchers, who fought back.
Cichocki said the detained Russians would face accelerated
court procedure and would likely be expelled from Poland and
banned from returning to Europe's border free Schengen area for
Authorities had been braced for a confrontation at the Group
A game between the neighbouring countries, whose relations have
been poisoned by centuries of conflict and the Soviet domination
of Poland for more than four decades after World War Two.
Polish officials rejected charges that at times police were
too slow to react to the violence that erupted ahead of the
Poland-Russia match that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Nearly 6,400 officers policed the Warsaw streets Wednesday,
including 2,000 riot police, who cordoned off the marchers.
"In my opinion, the number of policemen was appropriate,"
Cichocki said. "I think police performed well."
About 20,000 Russian fans had been expected in Warsaw for
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