The Day before yesterday, on the eve of a crucial Poland vs. Russia match, a Russian aged about 40 and wrapped from head to toe in a white-red-blue flag asked me whom I wished to win. I only smiled in reply. But the interlocutor said without even moving the corners of the lips: “And we cheered for Ukraine yesterday. We’ll meet in the final.” What keeps Poland and Russia from cheering for one another is that they are in the same group. I know quite well the somewhat specific Russian mentality, for I lived until I was six in Briansk about 400 kilometers between Moscow and Kyiv. But it is still difficult to understand why the Polish took an excessively tendentious attitude to the Russians as Euro-2012 began. Sitting at the grandstand of Stadion Narodowy, I also saw a lot of Poles and Russians hugging. A Pole, who was standing in a line for refreshing beverages before me, bought beer for the two Russians who could not change a euro. The police announced shortly before the match end that all the Russians should remain in their seats for another 20 minutes. Besides, more than a hundred policemen were stationed under the grandstand – an unheard-of thing at previous European soccer championship matches.
As we were going home, a Polish medic asked us if we had any Russian hats of the kind that had been handed out once before – he so much wanted one as a keepsake. I also happened to be in a mixed fan zone, and I saw the Russians enthusiastically applauding after every performance of “Marsz, marsz, Dabrowski,” “Polska bialo czerwoni,” and listening attentively to the inflammatory “Polaci, my chcemy gola.” Unlike the opponents from other zones, they cried out no scornful chants. And what did you see? Early in the morning the media began tirelessly gloat over the events of the “wet” night of June 13. That was the first summer downpour. Naturally, the commotion continued until dusk, and 35,995 representatives of the Russian people could not find so many places to spend the night, so they had to wander hotel lounges and railway station waiting rooms. On the radio that I usually listen to, a witty listener summed up the new part of a saga named “Polish-Russian Battle:” look, there should be an official day-off after so many emotions.
IN THE MEANWHILE
Polish police have detained 184 persons who violated the public order in Warsaw on June 12, before the match between Poland and Russia national teams, reportedly by newsru.ua. According to the statement of Poland’s Ministry of Interior, the detainees include 156 Poles and 24 Russians. “The reaction of the law-enforcement officials was well-timed and resolute, enabling to prevent the excalation of aggression on the part of the hooligans,” the statement reads. Currently the policemen are watching the videos from surveillance and police cameras, trying to identify the hooligans involved in the violations of order. The law-enforcement officials intend to detain these persons. The verdicts concerning the participants of the fights in Warsaw will be announced before Friday; most likely, the Russian hooligans will be deported from Poland. Poland’s Embassy to the Russian Federation confirmed the information that two Russians were injured as a result of the clashes of fans in Warsaw. “Based on the data provided by the Polish police, we want to refute the statement about the death of one of the fans,” Interfax quotes the statement of the press secretary of Polish Embassy, Grzegorz Telesnicki, “Ten persons were injured during the incident before the match, including two Russians, a German, and seven Poles. As it proceeds from the information provided by medical services, their lives are not in danger.”