Russian in Newcastle United shirt exposed as hooligan with sinister ‘spy’ links

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    A suspected Russian spy was arrested after putting Wagner brigade stickers all over a Polish city while wearing a t-shirt that had "Newcastle United" written on it.

    The ginger-bearded man, identified later as Alexei T, was arrested alongside a second man on Friday (August 11) for distributing the stickers containing links to "recruitment websites", said Polish media.

    In a video the man in the shirt that makes a nod to the English Premier League team is confronted after appearing to slap the stickers on bins in the Polish capital. They stated "We are here, join us".

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    "Interesting tee shirt that he is wearing," pointed out one bloke in response to the video, shared online by journalist Dominik Serwacki.

    A second person joked: "Newcastle United, Ralph Lauren. The people who claim to hate the West sure do seem to enjoy our s**t."

    A third person added: "For sure not a true Newcastle fan."

    And he is right, according to some online reports that state that the man is in fact a Spartak Moscow ultra.

    Dominik Serwacki, the journalist who appears to have shot the video, stated on X that he and the second arrested man are both involved with hooligan groups connected to the Russian top division side.

    Serwacki wrote on X: "Nickname 'Bonyi', [he is] an important character from the 'Union' team, the best hooligan group of Spartak Moscow.

    "He was the one who unwrapped the stickers of the Wagner Group in Warsaw. The second one detained in Krakow belongs to Orel Butchers, the next hooligan team of Spartak Moscow."

    Why the bearded Russian hooligan was wearing Newcastle United merchandise remains a mystery, but what is clear is that both men were charged with espionage by Polish authorities.

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    The Polish counter-intelligence agency said that the duo distributed around 300 leaflets in the two Polish cities, which were among around 3,000 pro-Wagner items of propaganda in their possession.

    The material was given to them in Moscow, the body added, stating furthermore that the men were to be paid up to almost £4,000 for their efforts.

    "Both were charged with espionage, among other things," said the Polish interior minister Mariusz Kamiński on X.

    A later statement added that the "other things" were "activities for foreign intelligence against Poland" as well as association with and recruitment for a mercenary service banned under international law, and the promotion of symbols and names supporting Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

    When Newcastle United were bought by a consortium led by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, eyebrows were raised because of Saudi links to Vladimir Putin.

    This doesn't directly translate into Russian civilians supporting Newcastle United, although the country does have a small but passionate NUFC fanbase.

    Chronicle Live reported in June 2018 that there are almost 1,000 known Toon fans in Russia and even a supporters club in the capital called "Moscow Mags" – a reference to the Toon Army's other nickname, The Magpies.

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    • Premier League
    • Russia Ukraine war

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