: Guardian: Whitehall fears Russian football hooligans had Kremlin links

10:27 Jun. 19, 2016

Guardian: Whitehall fears Russian football hooligans had Kremlin links

In this Saturday, June 11, 2016 file photo, Russian supporters attack an England fan at the end of the Euro 2016 Group B soccer match between England and Russia, at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, France (AP Photo)

UK government: we suspect many of those who attacked England supporters are in Russia's uniformed services, fighting Putin's ‘hybrid warfare'

Senior government officials fear the violence unleashed by Russian hooligans at Euro 2016 was sanctioned by the Kremlin and are investigating links with Vladimir Putin's regime.

It is understood that a significant number of those involved in savage and highly coordinated attacks on England fans and others in Marseille and Lille have been identified as being in the "uniformed services" in Russia.

The theory is that the sanctioning of hooliganism by Putin is a continuation of what has been described as Russia's campaign of "hybrid warfare". Whitehall experts fear the tactic is a ploy to demonstrate Russian strength while building on a narrative inside the country that the rest of the world is lining up against it.

Read also RFE/RL: Six Russian soccer fans detained for beating Spaniards in Cologne

Following the violence in Marseille, fake Twitter accounts were reportedly set up to spread the view that Russian fans had been provoked. A senior Russian parliamentarian tweeted, "Well done lads, keep it up!"

Two England fans, Andrew Bache, 51, from Portsmouth, and Stewart Gray, from Hinckley, Leicestershire, were left in comas fighting for their lives after being attacked with hammers and iron bars by Russian hooligans. Full story 

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