Cossack units believed to be behind the beating of protesters at last weekend's rally against Vladimir Putin's inauguration are expected to help provide security during this summer's World Cup, Russian media have reported.
Photographs from Saturdays protest, organized by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, showed men in military uniform bearing the symbols of the Central Cossack Army beating protestors with leather whips.
According to The Bell news outlet, the Cossack units received funding totaling 15.9 million rubles ($253,104) between 2016 and 2018 for training sessions on how to ensure public safety in Moscow.
“I’ve covered these fake ‘Cossacks’ before. They are violent thugs for hire, doing jobs too dirty even [for] crooked cops,” Alexey Kovalev, the editor of the Coda Story news outlet, wrote on his Twitter account.
“They’ll be providing ‘security’ at the World Cup in June. Now you can freak out.”
Another of the 11 World Cup host cities, Rostov-on-Don, has also opted to use Cossack units to support police activity during the international football tournament, which takes place from June 14 to July 15.