Police on Wednesday detained two Russian soccer players accused of beating a government official at a Moscow cafe, an attack that has attracted nationwide attention. Zenit St. Petersburg striker Alexander Kokorin and Krasnodar midfielder Pavel Mamayev have been accused of beating an official from the Russian Ministry for Industry and Trade who rebuked them for behaving improperly.
Police said Kokorin and Mamayev were questioned Wednesday and put in custody on hooliganism charges pending an investigation. A video taken by a surveillance camera and broadcast by Russian TV stations showed the official being hit with a chair over his head and slapped in the face. A probe is under way, and the players could face five years in prison if found guilty.
Russian media also reported that Kokorin and Mamayev are suspected of beating up a motorist in a separate incident earlier this week that was also caught on surveillance cameras and widely televised. The incident has topped Russian television newscasts and a chorus of officials and lawmakers said that the players must be punished.
The Russian Premier League strongly condemned the “hooliganism.” Krasnodar said it may terminate Mamayev’s contract, while Zenit said it would take disciplinary measures against Kokorin.