Members of the Cossack Russian militia have stated they will patrol a number of World Cup games to help police prevent gay men from kissing.
Over 300 Cossacks, an ethnic group of Russian paramilitaries will reportedly patrol World Cup games in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, close to the Ukranian border.
In a series of remarks originally reported by US-funded Russian-language channel Current Time TV, a senior member of the Cossack militia stated that the group were preparing to patrol some of the upcoming World Cup games to help maintain traditional values.
Oleg Barannikov, a coordinator of Cossack volunteer guards said: “If two men kiss at the World Cup we will ask the police to pay attention to them, and what happens next is up to the police.
“For us values above all mean Orthodox Christianity and family.
“We Cossacks have gone through too much for those values to be just thrown away.”
Barannikov then stated that the Cossacks would leave their traditional whips at home and would be tolerant of LGBT fans.
However, he then added they would also physically support police if necessary.
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As well as having a presence at the games themselves, volunteers will also be patrolling at the local airport and in designated fan zones in the city centre.
In 2014, members of the protest band Pussy Riot were whipped and beaten by Cossack militia members for attempting to perform in Sochi prior to the Winter Olympics.
Last month, LGBT football fans were “strongly” warned to not “publicly display sexuality” at the World Cup.
The Football Supporters’ Federation said that queer fans should not hold hands or be affectionate towards their partner in public, to ensure their safety.
The dangers for supporters who are open with their sexuality have been highlighted by activists, who have reported death threats to the police – including threats that gay World Cup fans would be “hunted down and stabbed.”
Pride in Football campaign leader Joe White told the Mirror: “We’ve had people say that if they find us they’ll stab us, so it’s been a mixture but they’re being dealt with seriously and those investigations are still ongoing.”
Russian Government minister Mikhail Degtyarev has estimated that around two million people will visit Russia during the World Cup.
Hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled in the country since Russia created a law banning gay “propaganda”.
The 2013 legislation, which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” towards minors, has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.