The scenes of vandalism, hooliganism and wanton destruction are unfortunately a norm on western European TV. Incredulous, millions of viewers watched cars being torched, young men being kicked in by howling mobs of drunken hooligans and the question remained: Belfast? Beirut? Gaza? Welcome to Moscow, 2002.
Moscow, 2002 wakes up today after a nightmare which was unfortunately much more than a bad dream. Moscow has caught the virus which came with the wave of market-economy reforms started by President Boris Yeltsin in the early nineties. Gone are the days of guaranteed employment, gone are the days of guaranteed accommodation, gone are the days of the best education and healthcare systems in the world.
In comes MacDonald’s, in comes the market-oriented economy, in comes the so-called political freedom and with it, a wave of pornography, drug addiction, unemployment, vandalism, hooliganism and homelessness. Welcome to Moscow 2002, certainly a very different story from Moscow 1982.
With the new-found freedom, its citizens have found out that their hard-earned savings spent to buy a family car have been rivalled by the new-found freedom for the youngsters to behave like western European hooligans, smashing windscreens and torching petrol tanks.
Vandalism reared its ugly head in Moscow on Sunday, a mindless, idiotic reaction by a drunken mob whipped into a hysteria by scenes of violence shown on the big screen. It is well that the authorities have decided to dismount the screens, since if this is what they produce, a sorry mirror-image of the indecency which permeates the atmosphere of so many foreign capitals, it is unwelcome and perverse.
No excuse is the dreadful refereeing of the match against Japan, in which Russia was denied a penalty, in which numerous non-existent fouls were marked against Russia and in favour of Japan and a match which finished almost a minute early, at a time when Russia was on the attack.
Russia and Russians will do well to keep the dialogue to the pitch, to let the feet do the talking against Belgium, a team which Russia must beat. If not, and this is unlikely, then it is hoped by everyone within Russia and outside, that the drunken hooligans will refrain from behaving like those until now considered as being behaviourally inferior.
Timofei BYELO PRAVDA.Ru
Europe which is panic-stricken over the consequences of rising energy and food prices could strike a treacherous blow to Ukraine this winter, writes Simon Tisdall for The Guardian.