Thousands of homeless people are allegedly being forced and beaten out of Russian World Cup cities to hide the country’s social problems.
Despite denials by officials, there are reportedly fears of a repeat mass exodus carried out by the Soviet authorities from Moscow during the 1980 Olympics.
There are even claims some without a shelter are “beaten” with truncheons onto transport to take them to special camp sites or former military bases.
Moscow’s social care department insisted the claims were untrue and that it would be illegal to transfer people by force.
But one homeless woman claimed the cities ‘have already started cleaning up’.
Newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets (MK) reported homeless people have been warned they will be “sent to special camps” ahead of the tournament which kicks off next week.
An anonymous policeman said the homeless are being ordered “away from Moscow” stating: “We just push them all out into the street towards special buses.
“Then with words or batons we push them in – and goodbye.”
The MK report said: “Every day they are expecting to be packed and sent away in some secret buses.”
Homeless people from host city Kazan have been banished to Naberezhnye Chelny, and those from Ekaterinburg have been deported to Chelyabinsk, according to social media reports, said the newspaper.
In Moscow, it is claimed that street people are being moved away from major railway stations, where they are traditionally given food by charities.
Hundreds of thousands of fans will use trains to move between venue cities, with Moscow the key hub.
A source at Kind Heart Foundation said: “Most likely these people will be carried away.”
One charity even advised those without shelters to voluntarily go to special “camps” reportedly being set up outside the capital city.
“We advise those we are working with to leave Moscow or live in some labour shelters for a while,” a source said.
“Time is almost up, they need to get out as soon as possible.”
One homeless woman called Irina was quoted saying: “They have already started cleaning up.
“Four buses left Paveletsky and Kazansky railway stations.
“How are they doing it?
“Just like this: in the evening or at night they come up when a few witnesses are around, and put people in.
“Of course, nobody wants to go, so they force them – even beating sometimes.
“You cannot say no to these people.”
One man, Igor, was reportedly told that former army camps will be used as shelters during the World Cup.
“They will have guards,” he said.
“I know for sure about such camps near Tver and Tula cities.
“This is only for the duration of the World Cup, later everyone will come back.”
Some say they have been told they will get decent shelter and food rather than being dumped 101 kilometres (63 miles) from Moscow, as happened during the Olympics.
Mityushkin, 23, said a concert was held this week for homeless people with songs, dancing and food.
But added that from the stage there was an announcement that buses would take them to camps outside the city.
“There will be tents there and a kitchen,” he said, adding a social point at Yaroslavsky station had been closed.
“It is said they will force us to go.”
A night duty policeman told MK: “We are just pushing them away from railway stations for now.
“Yes, it is said that some clean up will follow.
“But on the other hand, should they be allowed to keep walking here, their muzzles looming in front of tourists?”
A social services source said a shelter in the Moscow suburbs at Lyubertsy had 500 beds – for volunteers.
Those who resist would be taken to a another camp near Tver with 800 beds.
“I know about two more camps – one in Klin district of Moscow region and some old army units in the same direction, about 101 km from Moscow,” he said.
But Moscow’s social care department denied the claims.
“Homeless people are the same citizens like you and me, and it is illegal to transfer them somewhere by force,” said a spokesman.
“We have not received any extra instructions due to the World Cup, so we keep working according to the law and for the people’s good.”
Vladimir Chernikov, head of Moscow Regional Security and Anti-Corruption Department, said: "No more 101 km, it is just impossible.”
Officials say football games involving the homeless will be held tomorrow (SAT) in a Moscow park.
But MK reported: “This did happen in the past.
“Thirty eight year ago, before the Olympic Games, Moscow suddenly became deserted.
“All ‘non-trustworthy’ citizens – the term ‘homeless’ was not used at that time – were strongly advised to leave the capital in order not to disturb the foreign guests.
“Those beggars and other filth should not spoil the image of the socialist city.”
The Soviet Union had now gone but expelling the homeless “is not going to change”.
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