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World Cup restrictions weigh heavy on ordinary Russians

Sunday, June 10, 2018

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MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Keen to prevent a repeat of ugly scenes from previous tournaments, authorities in Russia have imposed draconian measures during the World Cup, cracking down on everything from alcohol to kebabs.

Here are some of the new restrictions that affect Russians as well as international fans during the tournament, which runs from June 14 to July 15.

SALE OF ALCOHOL

On matchdays and the day before, the sale of alcoholic drinks and all drinks in glass bottles will be banned in fan zones, around stadiums and in other busy locations such as parks and railway stations in host cities.

The authorities also intend to revive the Soviet institution of drunk tanks, run by the police, where drunk fans will be taken to sober up.

REGISTERING WITH POLICE

Both foreigners and Russians who travel to one of the World Cup host cities will have to register with police within three days of arrival, displaying proof of identity and showing they have accommodation.

Previously, Russians were only supposed to register with police if they stayed in another city for more than 90 days. In any case, these rules had rarely been implemented in recent years.

Foreigners who travel to several of the 11 host cities and stay in each for more than three days will have to register multiple times.

While hotels will organise registration, this is more complex for those renting private flats with the owner expected to register them. Some journalists covering the World Cup have already had problems after failing to register in time on arrival.

CRACKDOWN ON PROTESTS

A decree signed by President Vladimir Putin drastically curtails the rights of Russians to hold protests during the World Cup.

Public events unconnected to sport can only be held in certain places and at times approved by the authorities. For example in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals, demonstrations must not involve more than 100 people and can only be held between 2:00 and 4:00 pm.

Music festivals planned for this summer in Russia have also had to move their dates to after the World Cup.

SIGHTSEEING

While prices for hotel rooms and rented flats have soared, the authorities have also decided to squeeze out organised tours, which are particularly popular with Russians.

Coaches of sightseers will be banned from entering host cities and pleasure boats will not be allowed to sail on their rivers.

The authorities have identified 41 locations over which all of types of flights will be banned during the World Cup, while the use of drones is banned in an 100-kilometre radius around the host cities. A special army squadron will be deployed to set up electronic jamming around stadiums.

In Moscow, known for its snarled traffic, as well as in other big cities, some streets in the centre and near stadiums will be closed, risking further jams.

The mayor of Kaliningrad, one of the host cities, has even urged residents to leave the city and have a relaxing break in the countryside during the matches.

BARBECUE BAN

Already hit by sanctions banning European meat and other foods, Russians will now find it harder to fire up barbecues to grill their beloved kebabs (known as shashlik).

Due to forest fires that have spread over large areas this summer, particularly in Siberia, the authorities have ordered tougher restrictions on lighting fires outdoors during the World Cup.

The rules to be implemented by the host cities call for bans on campfires, setting fire to grass and cooking meat al fresco in areas that lack special facilities.

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