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Putin: Cameron may have called EU referendum to 'blackmail Europe'

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Credit: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that David Cameron may have called a referendum on the European Union "to blackmail Europe" - but said the decision is "the business of the people of the UK".

President Putin added that while he had his own opinion on whether the UK should stay in the EU, he would refrain from expressing it.

I don't think this is very proper to engage Russia in all the problems, even if we are not involved in it, to make Russia a scarecrow. Civilised people do not do things this way.

As for the Prime Minister of the UK, there is a great problem with Brexit, why did he initiate this vote in the first place? Why did he do that? So he wanted to blackmail Europe or to scare someone, what was the goal if he was against?

I want to say it is none of our business, it is the business of the people of the UK. I have my own opinion on this matter, I cannot talk about the result yet - no one knows about the result yet, I think it is 50-50 with a certain margin of error.

– Russian President Vladimir Putin

The Russian president singled out controversial EU fishing laws as what he perceived to be a particular bone of contention for some Britons.

Politicians including Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond - who is campaigning to remain - have speculated that President Putin would relish a Brexit as a way of weakening the EU and allowing Russia greater scope to reassert itself.

Russia summons French ambassador over arrests

Russian fans suspected of causing trouble at Euro 2016 detained by French police Credit: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Russia's Foreign Ministry has summoned the French ambassador in Moscow over the detention of Russian football fans at the Euros.

The French envoy said it was notified about "discrimination" towards the Russians, adding that "further fanning of anti-Russian sentiments" could damage relations between France and Russia.

England and Russia could be thrown out of Euro 2016

England and Russia could face being thrown out of Euro 2016 Credit: PA

England and Russia face being thrown out of Euro 2016 if scenes of serious fan disorder continue, UEFA's executive committee has warned.

Ugly scenes both before and during Saturday night's Group B game in Marseille left a number of supporters injured, with one England fan in a critical condition in hospital.

UEFA was swift to open disciplinary proceedings against the Football Union of Russia for alleged crowd disturbances, racist behaviour and the setting off of fireworks towards the end of the game.

But now their executive committee has gone one step further in a strongly worded statement which indicates the governing body will not hesitate to impose the ultimate sanction.

The statement read:

The UEFA Executive Committee would like to express its disgust for the violent clashes which occurred in the city of Marseille.

Such unacceptable behaviour by so-called supporters of the national teams of England and Russia has no place in football, a sport we must protect and defend.

The UEFA Executive Committee has warned both football associations that - irrespective of any decisions taken by the independent disciplinary bodies relating to incidents inside the stadium - it will not hesitate to impose additional sanctions on the Football Association (FA) and the Russian Football Union (RFU), including the potential disqualification of their respective teams from the tournament, should such violence occur again.

We urge both the FA and the RFU to appeal to their supporters to behave in a responsible and respectful manner.

We would also like to publicly voice our support for the work of the French Authorities and security forces for their efforts to deliver a safe and secure tournament in challenging circumstances.

– UEFA Executive Committe

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Russian Football Union 'likely to be fined for fan violence'

Fans clash after Saturday's England versus Russia football match. Credit: Reuters

UEFA is likely to fine the Russian Football Union for the behaviour of Russian fans in Marseille, Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said.

"We will have a fine from UEFA, so I understand," he told the R-Sport news agency.

He added that Russian officials will investigate the violence and said that there were "many nuances".

Mr Mutko's comments follow violent scenes at Saturday's Euro 2016 game between England and Russia.

Russia releases jailed Ukrainian pilot Savchenko

Russia has released Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko. Credit: Reuters

Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko arrived home in Kiev on Wednesday after nearly two years in a Russian jail.

"A presidential plane with Ukraine's hero Nadiya Savchenko has landed," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a post on Twitter.

Russia released jail Savchenko in exchange two Russians held by the Ukrainian government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had pardoned Savchenko on "humanitarian considerations" in the hope that her release would help reduce tension in the Ukraine conflict and avoid further loss of life.

The servicewoman volunteered to fight with a ground unit against pro-Moscow separatists who challenged Kiev's rule in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

She was captured by Russia-backed rebels and sentenced in March to 22 years in prison for her alleged role in the deaths of two Russian journalists in the conflict zone.

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