In early November, I called a friend who had moved from Russia to Poland. He got a work visa, he carries food, in general, he fulfilled a small dream: throw him in enlightened Europe. He talked for a long time about the coolness of life in Warsaw, the level of goods, services, salaries and wonderful people. And only in the end did he move on to the important ones.
“Actually, I’m lying with a broken nose,” he said. – A few hours before your call, I set it up.
At that moment I thought: a really high standard of living. It turned out that Poland was celebrating Independence Day. He left the store and said something in Russian. Fatal mistake. Two powerful nationalists appeared nearby, to whom he proudly announced that he was from Russia. It is good that the skirmish turned out to be local. He missed a hit and drove home bruised.
“This is not the first time my nose has been broken. Nothing, I can not stand it, he said. I passed out. And a month later he came to Warsaw. And I certainly did not expect to be in a potentially stronger game.
Warsaw in general is wonderful. The cutest old town, many references to Chopin, the street and the University of Copernicus, cozy restaurants and smiling people. The city does not stand out from the classic image of a European capital. And it is hard to imagine that 70 years ago there were only shells here. In the hotel, restaurants, on the street – everyone is very friendly. What kind of problems can occur?
3 hours before the Spartak match I left the hotel. The stage is about 30 minutes away. I decided to lengthen the route, grab a bite and cross the Botanical Garden – there is a monument to Chopin himself. After that, Google Maps paved the way for the stadium. Legia plays games in a convenient location: close to the center, close to a park and a large sports complex with an indoor ice rink, tennis courts and other facilities. I hooked the composer’s monument, then I had to cross to the other side of a small highway and there for 10 minutes at the stadium. I thought too: suspicious calm. It’s not that I expect hardcore fans. First, not many fans came from Russia. Second, public strife is gradually becoming history. It is very difficult to deal with the consequences.
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I went out on the sidewalk, let the girl pass, who obviously did not run the first kilometer, but in the other direction, and 100 meters away I saw a patrol car. Although there is almost no room for conflict, it is best to play it safe. To the right of the car is a small bar (I will learn the name later – Spring. Sports bar), right on the descent from the highway. There is a lot of people inside and out. They drink beer, they laugh, everything seems calm. I walk a little closer, stopping about 10 meters from the entrance. I noticed some people with Legia scarves. I was already thinking of taking my phone out for some atmospheric shots from the pub. But he stopped, caught the first suspicious look. A man about 30 years old passed by and looked so carefully in my direction, as if I looked like a nice Polish woman without clothes. Then another got up five meters away. At that moment – the first mistake. I do not understand what should fall. When I realized that, it was already too late.
Photo: Screenshot of the bar from Google Maps
– I can have your documents, – after 5 seconds, a man in a black suit appeared next to me and spoke in English. The first reaction is automatic. I unbutton my jacket and put on my passport. The thought in my head – it must be the police. And he wants to control something. I ask what happened. In response to the same English: everything is fine, we want to make sure you can be here.
I get my passport, but after the question is: “Where are you from?” “From Russia,” I reply without thinking. “On the field?” – an instant new question. “Yes, I will go to work. I’m a journalist “, but I do not have time to finish how the pleasant ones ended. He walks a little towards his company and shouts loudly: “Russka!”. A few more seconds – and a stronger man jumps behind him. “Russka, Spartak, s ***”. And it strikes immediately from the left to the side of the face. I’m lucky. It was not a reaction, he just miraculously removed his head slightly. The effect was tangential. In an hour, colleagues will see only a small hematoma.
I quickly take a few steps back. Then I understand – he saved me. If I had stayed in my place, the second blow would have gone. And it is good that no one was behind. Other companies nearby did not react in any way. Like the police 20 meters from what is happening.
Adrenaline rushes. “I’m not a fan, I’m a journalist,” I shout at them. The words pass. The two begin to surround themselves. Someone says: “Curva Russian.” I take off quickly and run to the police. I do not know why I was not knocked to the ground. But after a few seconds I am next to the flashing lights. Workers stand with stone faces, even in the work of Amiran Sardarov, people look more interesting.
I run outside on the sidewalk, a little further from the bar. Nobody back. More police ahead. I go quickly to the stadium and I already hear voices in Russian: “You are from Russia, wait!”. A chubby small man appears on the street. And for some reason I think he is not capable of anything bad. Polite, smiling face, Russian speech, but with accent. He catches me: “Are you from Russia? From Moscow? ” “No, I’m from St. Petersburg. I came here for work “-” Petersburg, nice! Are you a Spartak fan? – I did not understand this question or statement. “No”, I try to get rid of him as soon as possible. “Spartak is s ***,” he says. I do not react at all. Two policemen pass by us. “I want to beat you,” erupts from this cute, round mouth unexpectedly for me. “I want blood.”
I went crazy. And something answered him in Russian. Suddenly he changed to Polish and shouted that he did not understand me. Since he was shorter than me and stood out only with his belly, the first reaction is even if a fight starts, no problem. Ever since I grew up in a small town in Russia, I have often encountered such characters. And, of course, he did not think that a knife or anything like that could come out of his pocket. “If you want to fight, go ahead,” I say foolishly in English. He turns and screams in the other direction. I look back and understand: he is not going to do it one by one, three of his own repressed friends are following him. But much more powerful than the paunch. Good that two more policemen are having a good time, I have time to run away. Traffic lights. You have to cross the street and then a few police cars. He comes to me for the last time: “Show me the phone”, he asks in English. “No, I’ll go to the police now,” I reply. Lights up green, I walk away quickly.
The remaining 500 meters to the stadium, I threw them in a few minutes. More and more police. But there is not much sense of security. A complete feeling that any uncle with a Legia handkerchief can come to you and sign up on the right. An hour later I was talking to colleagues and Spartak fans.
I heard from a well-known TV journalist: “I wanted to talk to someone, but when you mention that you are from Russia, no one wants to communicate. It is as if they are implying: although we will not break your legs, we will not speak “.
Spartak fans had to be transported to the stadium by special bus. But almost no one came to the transfer. “Not far from that place, Legia ultras are often picked up. Strange starting point. As a result, almost everyone took a taxi to a special police corridor, but mostly without incident. Many already got tools in the arena. And after the match they were not allowed to leave the field for more than two hours. Police cars crossed the center of Warsaw until late at night.
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I’m lucky. What happened can not be called even a small terror. And I do not want to imagine what could have happened if there were not many circumstances. But it’s really scary. In my place, there could be any other Russian-speaking person who would come from conditional tennis training and stay for a minute in this pub.
Because of this incident, I will certainly not feel worse about Poland or the Poles. I know for a fact that not everyone is like that. But there are many who do not care. However, this is not just the case in Warsaw.