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Russia orders fan murder probe after protest

Russia yesterday ordered a high-level probe into the shooting of a football fan after around 1,000 protesters blocked a Moscow highway for half an hour, some shouting racist slogans.

The protesters also let off flares and firecrackers in an incident that came just days after the authorities celebrated the awarding of the 2018 football World Cup to Russia.

The victim, Yegor Sviridov, 28, was a dedicated fan of the Spartak Moscow football team, one of the top Russian premiership sides which has an impassioned support base in the capital, investigators said.

Witnesses said he was shot in the head on Saturday night in a mass fight with men from the Russian Caucasus. Another Spartak fan was shot in the stomach, the Kommersant daily reported.

The protesters on Tuesday evening chanted “Russia for Russians” and “Moscow for Muscovites,” an amateur video posted on YouTube showed.

Many wore masks. The racist Movement against Illegal Immigration announced the protest on its website, calling Sviridov “a member of the right,” and later posted videos and photographs.

Russia’s top investigator Alexander Bastrykin reacted to appease protesters in a statement yesterday, saying the investigation would move up from district to city-level taking into account the “public response.”

Bastrykin said investigators believe Sviridov was shot by a man from the Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, and would ask a court to sanction his arrest.

As Russia prepares to host the 2018 World Cup, its football fans – some of whom model themselves on British hooligans, wearing the same fashion labels and calling themselves “firms” – will be closely watched by the authorities.

Sviridov’s fan nickname was Sedoi, or Grey-haired.

Kommersant said he was an active participant in one of the most aggressive fan groups, The Union.

In July another Spartak fan, telejournalist Yury Volkov, was stabbed to death in a fight with men from the Russian Caucasus in a central Moscow park. A Chechen man has been charged with the crime.

The killing prompted fans to hold banners with Volkov’s name at matches and to hold several public protests.

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