"Russian Whores! Russian Whores!"

In our little corner of the world, when public safety officials are faced with situations which involve "civil disobedience" in one form or another, the theory they operate under is usually described as "proportionate response". The feeling is that a massive police presence when such may not be called for or entirely necessary only serves to provoke the element you are attempting to control.

So in tense situations they try to go with the lightest possible footprint in the hope that the situation can be diffused without an overwhelming show of force and the violence which it implicitly threatens.

One thing we learned yesterday is that this particular theory does not hold much currency in Poland.

Here, for an example, is how the Polish security people chose to deal with the Russian fan section at the match in Warsaw:

The not-so-subtle message is perfectly clear: mess with us and we'll kick your ass.

The reported numbers in various categories vary wildly: 56 arrests, 120 arrests, 200 arrests. A couple dozen in the hospital, 50 in the hospital, 100 in the hospital. 2,500 Russian marchers, 5,000 Russian marchers, 20,000 Russian marchers.

One number does stand out and it comes straight from the top of the government: 6,000.

That's how many truncheon-carrying, helmeted, body-armor wearing professionally trained riot police they assembled from all corners of the country to deal with whatever happened.

And as it turned out the Russia fans had a lot more to worry about than the citizens of Warsaw did: the Poles were plenty pissed off about the Russkies celebrating their Independence Day by marching in their city.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj0MXWVSV4k

From the beginning of the march the Russians, apparently numbering closer to 2500 than 5000, were surrounded by an angry mob of Poles, chanting things like "Russian Whores! Russian Whores!" and - my favorite - "Smash them with a hammer, cut them with a sickle!".

As they got closer to the river the crowd grew ever larger until, as they neared the bridge, the police decided not to allow them to continue, and made the marchers disburse.

That, reportedly, is when most of the pre-match violence took place. Rather than mob-on-mob assaults it became a case of angry fans picking off the laggards and kicking crap out of them until the police arrived to break it up and haul some people off to jail or the hospital as seemed appropriate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wsr1NSHXAc

Police used dogs, tear gas, water cannons and the ever-popular truncheon to restore order.

In fairness to the Russians - now there's a phrase you don't hear much - the lions' share of the blame for this has to fall on UEFA, who scheduled this match for Russia's Independence Day.

UEFA says it was the computer and I'm sure that's true, but all it would have taken was a pen and two minutes to change it.

Secondly, the local authorities gave their permission for the march, which was pretty much destined to end the way it did.

And it was the Poles who took most of the beating from the police, who were just trying to keep them away from the Russians.

No word from UEFA yet today. Not sure what they can possibly say.

Please note: Yes, I posted the wrong video somehow. The right one is now up. A thousand apologies for my lack of technical skills, except to those of you who wanted to make a huge deal out of it, who can kiss my ass.