France expels Russian football activist for second time

Russian soccer fan leader Alexander Shprygin, who will again be deported from France after he returned despite a previous expulsion in connection with violence that marred the start of Euro 2016, is seen during his first expulsion in Marseille, Franc
Russian soccer fan leader Alexander Shprygin, who will again be deported from France after he returned despite a previous expulsion in connection with violence that marred the start of Euro 2016, is seen during his first expulsion in Marseille, France, June 18, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - France moved on Tuesday (June 21) to expel for a second time a Russian football activist accused of stirring street violence at Euro 2016, as police again fired water cannon and tear gas at fans.

Alexander Shprygin, who has been linked to far-right groups in Russia, will likely be flown to Moscow after he was moved to Paris from Toulouse where he was detained on Monday, according to police.

The head of the Russian supporters association was first expelled on Saturday after he was among fans rounded up following fighting between English and Russian fans that was largely blamed on the Russians.

French investigators believe he then returned to France after flying to Barcelona and crossing the border by car to reach Toulouse where Russia lost 3-0 to Wales on Monday night.

Shprygin put pictures of himself at the Toulouse stadium on Twitter and was detained as the game began.

The Russian activist, who has been pictured with President Vladimir Putin, told AFP before he was detained again that he crossed the Alps to get into France.

French authorities expelled a total of 20 Russian fans on Saturday with Shprygin claiming that four of them had managed to get back into France for their country's last match.

Russian diplomats complained to France over the treatment of their fans before the 20 were ordered out.

Russian fans are at the centre of a French inquiry into disturbances on the sidelines of England's June 11 game against Russia in which 35 mainly English fans were injured.

England fans Andrew Bache, 51, and Stewart Gray, 47, remain in comas and are in a "stable condition" but still fighting for their lives, French officials said.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said investigators are still hunting the attackers in the two cases "which are considered attempted murder." Robin has said much of the violence was provoked by Russian fans.

French police used water cannon and tear gas on Poland and Ukraine fans Tuesday during the latest ugly scenes to flare up in Marseille ahead of their encounter which had been flagged by authorities as high risk.

Police said they were attacked after trying to separate rival groups of supporters at a roundabout near the Stade Velodrome with bottles thrown and a rubbish bin set alight.

One police officer was injured and four people were arrested near the stadium while eight people were arrested earlier in the day at the Vieux-Port area of the city where Russian and English supporters fought on June 11.

Thousands of Poland supporters gathered in the district before heading towards the Velodrome stadium, holding a giant banner that said: "Defenders of European Culture".

An extra 1,000 police were drafted in for the match.