Football hooligans finally have a champion in the corridors of power. For the past forty years, they have faced nothing but weary condemnation. Most politicians have decided that, on balance, there's no profit to be had in defending lads who kick other people's heads in at football matches.
Not so Igor Lebedev, an MP in the Russian parliament and a member of the Russian Football Union. He issued a tweet last night saying that he couldn't for the life of him understand what was wrong with fighting at a football match.
I don't see anything wrong with the fans fighting. Quite the opposite, well done lads, keep it up!
Far from being excoriated, the Russian scrappers should be praised for their charge at the English fans.
In nine out of 10 cases, football fans go to games to fight, and that’s normal. The lads defended the honour of their country and did not let English fans desecrate our Motherland. We should forgive and understand our fans. But what happened in Marseille and other French cities, is not because of alcohol, but the inability of police to organise such a tournament.
Lebedev is a member of a party known for its right-wing, nationalist views, which somehow still goes by the name of the 'Liberal Democratic party'. For those who still doubt the chutzpah of the man, he followed up bu insisting the people must take an objective view of the matter.
You should be objective. If there had been no provocation from English fans, it’s unlikely our fans would have got into fights in the stands.
Lebedev is not alone among senior figures in defending their hooligans. Vladimir Makin, the spokesman of the Russian Investigative Committee (the main federal investigative body in Russia) tweeted derisively about the reaction in western Europe.
A normal man, as he should be, surprises them. They're used to seeing 'men' at gay parades
Their view is not representative of the broader Russian establishment which has at an official level expressed some shame and embarrassment over the scenes. However, many on twitter praised the Russian supporters who engaged in the fighting.
The fighting at the weekend has left one English fan in a coma and several others with severe injuries.