Two Russian footballer players implicated in past scandals have come under investigation this week for initiating two fights in Moscow, including a racist assault on a federal official.
Alexander Kokorin, 27, and Pavel Mamaev, 30, drew ire among Russian social media users in 2016 for scenes showing them smoking hookah and receiving champagne at a Monte Carlo nightclub after the Russian national team was knocked out of the EURO 2016 competition in France. A year later, Kokorin had his driver's license suspended for driving his Bentley against traffic in Moscow .
Moscow police announced Monday that they had opened a criminal battery case into a fight between two men and a victim at a cafe on Monday. The Mash Telegram channel claimed that surveillance video showed Kokorin and Mamaev hitting Industry and Trade Ministry official Denis Pak with a chair and punching him in the face.
Pak’s lawyer told the Kommersant FM radio station that Kokorin and Mamaev's attack on his client had been motivated by racial animosity.
“He reprimanded them, then received a blow to the head and a fist to the face. My client has a closed skull fracture and bruises,” lawyer Gennady Ududyan was quoted as saying.
Ududyan said his client intended to press charges, describing the footballers as "presenting a danger to a law-abiding society."
Mash reported that the footballers had made racist comments regarding Ududyan's Asian descent.
Kokorin’s club FC Zenit St. Petersburg and Mamaev’s FC Krasnodar have both publicly condemned their players’ actions. FC Krasnodar said in a statement Tuesday that it was seeking to annul Mamaev’s contract.
Police later said that another battery case had been launched into a fight on Monday morning after which a 33-year-old man was hospitalized and a car was vandalized. Interfax cited an unnamed source as saying that Kokorin and Mamaev had been the instigators of the conflict, which took place shortly before the fight in the cafe. Local media identified the 33-year-old victim as the driver of a state television news anchor.
Russia’s Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told the TASS news agency that the incidents had “cast a shadow on all of Russian football.”
“These lads aren't playing for the Russian national team and it looks like they never will,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Kokorin posted a picture on Instagram featuring Mamaev with the hashtag "10 years of friendship."