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Zakharova: Handbook for Journalists Covering World Cup is ‘More Russophobia’

RUSSIA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA president Gianni Infantino pose with their FAN IDs for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia at a distribution centre in Sochi, May 3, 2018
Maria Zakharova

Maria Zakharova

Press secretary, Foreign Ministry, Russia

“The initiative that seems to be useful at first glance and aimed at helping sports observers cover the main football event occurring every four years actually turned out to be nothing but more Russophobia, trivial anti-Russian stereotypes."

The brochure is a collection of data and facts, not stereotypes

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the handbook for journalists covering this year’s World Cup, which will be held next month in Russia, is “nothing but more Russophobia” and a “collection of trivial anti-Russian stereotypes.”

The handbook was produced by the Norwegian Helsinki Commission, together with other global rights watchdog groups, including Amnesty International and the Human Rights Foundation.

The Norwegian Helsinki Commission is part of the human rights monitoring network within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

What Zakharova calls a “collection of trivial anti-Russian stereotypes” is actually a collection of facts documenting abuses of rights and freedoms committed by the Russian state -- both during preparations for the 2018 World Cup and more broadly -- as well as racist behavior by Russian soccer fans.

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The 22-page handbook serves as a comprehensive database of documented abuses, including those that happened in the 11 Russian cities where the 64 World Cup soccer matches will be held. It also gives contact information for local rights activists.

In addition, the handbook includes essays by independent Russian journalists and rights activists recommending topics beyond sports that their foreign colleagues covering the World Cup should look into while in Russia.