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Russian Foreign Minister: We can't ignore English fans' provocations at Euros - RIA

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers a speech during a session at the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers a speech during a session at the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told parliament on Wednesday it was impossible to ignore what he said were outrageous provocations by English football fans at the Euro 2016 tournament in France, the RIA agency reported.

"We cannot close our eyes to the absolutely provocative actions by supporters from other countries," Lavrov was quoted as telling parliament.

"You have probably seen the outrageous images on TV when the Russian flag is getting stamped on and when insults are being screamed about the Russian (political) leadership and about leading Russian sports people."

Russia, whose fans fought pitched battles in Marseille at the weekend with their English counterparts, is due to play Slovakia later on Wednesday in Lille where English and Welsh fans have gathered ahead of their two teams' game on Thursday.

UEFA has said Russia will be thrown out of the tournament if there is a repeat of the violence by Russia fans which marred the end of last Saturday's match against England.

Lavrov also complained about the arrest by French police of a group of Russians fans on Tuesday, saying French authorities had failed to inform Russian diplomats about the incident despite having an obligation to do so under international law, the Interfax news agency reported.

Lavrov, who called the behaviour of Russian fans at the tournament "unacceptable", was cited as saying he had told his French counterpart to ensure Russian diplomats were kept in the loop in future.

Commenting on violence involving Russian fans, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said separately the Kremlin hoped there would be no further "excesses" and that any investigations into trouble would be even-handed.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was cited earlier on Wednesday as saying he could not rule out Russian soccer fans being involved in more violence because they were constantly being provoked, the TASS news agency reported.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Jason Bush)

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