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Moscow Quiet Following Russia's Elimination From World Cup - 2002-06-14


The streets of Moscow were calm Friday with only a few minor disturbances reported following Russia's elimination from soccer's World Cup. Police moved quickly to put down any disturbances and prevent the kind of rioting that left two dead in the Russian capital last Sunday.

Russian soccer fans who had gathered in Manezh square in downtown Moscow moaned in disappointment as they watched their team get eliminated from the World Cup - losing to Belgium by a score of 3-2. But there was no repeat of the violence that had erupted Sunday following Russia's initial loss to Japan.

Police were out in force and were quick to act, detaining more than a dozen disruptive fans among the estimated 4,000 people watching the match on a giant TV screen. Manezh square, just opposite the Kremlin, was the site of the rioting five days ago. The Interfax news agency said the people taken into custody had been throwing firecrackers and smoke bombs into the crowd.

Russian TV reported that 2,000 additional police officers were on the streets to prevent the kind of mayhem that erupted on Sunday. In that earlier violence, rampaging young people set fire to cars, smashed shop windows, and attacked police and other fans.

Moscow police came under heavy criticism for their handling of the situation and for their lack of preparedness. In their initial response to the riots, city officials said they would not broadcast any more of Russia's World Cup matches on the giant TV screens but then changed their minds. Russian news agencies reported that in addition to the extra police presence, special riot troops were put on standby.

Many small shops and cafes selling alcohol near Manezh square were closed. Those that were open were permitted to sell alcoholic drinks only in aluminum cans or plastic cups to keep glass bottles from being used as missiles.

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