MOSCOW, November 19 (R-Sport, RIA Novosti) - The thrower of a smoke bomb that injured a top Russian football player must face prison, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday.
Dynamo Moscow have said their goalkeeper Anton Shunin sustained burns to his eye when the smoke bomb exploded near him during Dynamo’s home game against reigning champions Zenit St. Petersburg on Saturday.
The match was abandoned.
“You need to put people in jail for crimes like this. There should be no impunity,” Medvedev said at a meeting with his deputies.
The Russian government is trying to push through legislation aimed at stamping out football hooliganism, and Medvedev suggested firework-throwers should be specifically targeted by the bill.
“This is an intentional crime, a criminal case, but you need to prepare the sort of changes that would be aimed at preventing these offences, these crimes,” he said.
Medvedev has previously called the act “disgusting” on his Facebook page.
A new anti-hooliganism law could be in front of parliament in the near future and just awaits Medvedev’s signature to be officially submitted, the vice-speaker of the lower house told RIA Novosti on Monday.
“The prepared text for the bill is with Medvedev for signature. It could be introduced to the State Duma very soon,” he said.
Police in the town of Khimki, where the attack on Shunin took place, have said they have arrested a female fan suspected of throwing the smoke bomb. About 92 people were arrested during the match.
Images of the hooliganism circulated through the Russian press Monday, depicting chanting fans shrouded in smoke amid the orange glow of burning flares.
The most striking was an image of Shunin keeled over in over pain, his head buried into his hands as the stray flare burned out near his feet.
Hooliganism has long remained a key feature at Russian sporting events, with soccer and hockey game days typically attracting hordes of rowdy and, sometimes, intoxicated fans to the streets and public transport systems of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other major Russian cities.
Public Chamber member Vladimir Slepak said on Monday that hooliganism at sporting events “long ago became common, standard behavior.”
He also called on the Ministry of Sports, as well as soccer teams themselves, to meet with fans and explain to them the ethics of conduct at games.
In the past, fans have commonly thrown trash and other debris, such as coins, onto the field during games.
It remains unclear how the fans were able to smuggle the flares, otherwise considered contraband, into the stadium.
Zenit fans, however, seem to have a history with flares: they were reported to have hidden the items in their rectums during a match last October with the Rostov outfit.