The Russia Report
Sky Sports News Radio is in Russia all this week for a series of reports ahead of eastern Europe's first World Cup. The 2018 organisers have told Andy May they can learn from England when it comes to tackling racism
Last Updated: February 23, 2011 9:28am
Russia 2018 believe they can follow England's example when it comes to tackling racism.
The latest official statistics claim 71 people were killed in racist and neo-Nazi attacks in 2009 in the country that will host the World Cup in seven years. And recently in the Russian capital, Spartak Moscow fans clashed with police as part of a mass demonstration by The Kremlin.
'Kick It Out' - the successful anti-racism campaign group - have told Sky Sports they are willing to work with England's 2018 rivals in order to make sure that it is safe for all supporters to visit Russia.
Alexander Djordjadze from Russia 2018 admits his country has a problem with racism: "there is social tension everywhere but I am sure that we can overcome it and we are inspired by England and the United Kingdom. In the 1980s it was not safe to visit stadiums there.
"Racism will not be a problem in 2018 during the World Cup."
As part of our special Russia Week series, I met the leader of a banned political group in Moscow. Dmitry Demushkin from The Slavic Union is confident that his members - and racist factions in Russia - will not target supporters at the World Cup.
"Supporters that come to our country for a sporting event are not under threat - we are fighting Muslim immigration and this has always been the case. Diplomats, tourists and athletes are okay."
I spoke to Dmitry through his interpreter and our meeting took place in a dark and empty bar with no windows and lots of Russia flags. With an hour's notice I was told to meet The Slavic Union at a Metro station and from there I was walked to our meeting point twenty minutes away.
Dmitry insists his party are not racist. "No one has ever proven this in court and all cases against us in the last 11 years have been fabricated."
Despite these claims, just before I left, I was shown a hand-carved wooden box which had been given to Dmitry by a friend who is in prison. On the top of it was a swastika.
As the 2018 World Cup team aim to beat racism, Danny Lynch from 'Kick It Out' says they can help. "We see this as a good opprtunity to work with Russia to share good practice and act as a guide. We would be more than happy to get involved so that by 2018 the problems we see at the moment have dwindled."
There is clearly a lot of work to be done. At the start of the season the Football Union of Russia launched an investigation after Lokomotiv Moscow fans showed off a banner 'thanking' West Brom for signing Peter Odemwingie, who is mixed-race. On the banner was a picture of a banana.
Russia's governing body refused to give us an interview but they sent a statement saying that "peaceful multi-culturalism" exists in their country.
You can hear Andy May's Russia Report all this week on Sky Sports News Radio and skysports.com. Click here to listen to his first report in which the Russians accused their World Cup rival of 'bitterness'. Later this week we will hear from a Russia international and find out how much it will cost to go to the World Cup.