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Russia says it thwarted drone attacks at World Cup

MOSCOW (AP) — Attempted drone attacks at this year’s World Cup in Russia were thwarted by government authorities, the head of the host country’s Federal Security Service said Wednesday.

Alexander Bortnikov said his officers “took measures to detect and foil attempts by terrorists to use drones during the preparation and hosting of various major political and sports events, most of all during the soccer World Cup.”

In comments reported by the Tass state news agency, Bortnikov didn’t say who the “terrorists” were or how they were stopped.

Separately, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev told the Interfax news agency that seven “nationalist” hooligan gangs were stopped from attacking foreign fans. They had allegedly planned to target supporters from England, Senegal, Argentina and Poland.

Neither Bortnikov nor Kolokoltsev specified any court cases or convictions resulting from their agencies’ actions. In April, Russia said “extremists” and nationalist soccer hooligans had planned to attack World Cup events in the city of Samara but were foiled.

Russia used thousands of police and cutting-edge surveillance technology to guard the World Cup, including facial-recognition cameras, airport-style scanners and obligatory government-issue ID cards for anyone attending a game.

However, four Pussy Riot protesters managed to run onto the field during the final. They each served 15 days in jail for disrupting the event.

One of the protesters, Pyotr Verzilov, fell ill suddenly in September and was taken to Germany for treatment. Friends said he was poisoned, an explanation that German doctors considered “highly plausible,” though they couldn’t say who may have poisoned him or how.

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