Sky News reports:
Gay couples seen kissing in public by Russian Cossacks during the World Cup will be reported to police. The tournament begins in 11 cities across the country next week.
Rostov-on-Don, a southern city, will reportedly have 300 Cossack vigilantes on patrol to help the police keep the streets safe, including 100 on horseback. The city will host four group matches and one final 16 game.
“If two men are kissing each other at the World Cup, we will tip off the police, drawing their attention to it and the rest is a police matter,” Oleg Barannikov, a head coordinator of the Cossack volunteers told Radio Free Europe affiliate Current Time. “To us, values mean the (Christian) Orthodox faith and the family come first.”
Russia’s Football Union has said it would not ban World Cup visitors from exhibiting Rainbow pride flags and Alexei Smertin, an ex-football player who is now the union’s anti-racism inspector, said people would not be fined for “expressing their feelings.”
Although Russian authorities have called on Cossack volunteers to support services such as the military in rounding up conscripts, the extreme views held by some members are a concern. Men in cossack uniforms who helped police an opposition march against Russian President Vladimir Putin notoriously attacked demonstrators with leather whips.