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Russia coach Advocaat unconcerned at Warsaw protests

Moscow, June 3 - Russia's coach Dick Advocaat said Sunday he has no concerns over the location of their Euro 2012 hotel in downtown Warsaw, despite gay rights demonstrations outside and more rallies planned later this month.

Several thousand activists rallied Saturday near the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw to demand equality for gays and lesbians and better education on the topic in schools.

A large police presence ensured no clashes with counter-protests nearby, but there is concern among some Russians that the ructions could affect the team's preparations.

Advocaat insisted he had no problem with the location because it's on a UEFA-approved list.

"Again and again, this hotel is more or less dedicated to UEFA. They told us in what kind of hotels we may go and one of the hotels was the Bristol."

On June 10, two days before Russia takes on co-host Poland in Warsaw, a march in memory of the 96 victims of the April 2010 air crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski in southern Russia is planned to skirt the walls of the hotel.

Polish sports minister Joanna Mucha told the Polish TVN24 channel on May 23 that the Russian delegation had been offered alternative accommodation, saying "we are trying to convince the team that considering staying in a different place might be in their own interests."

Anti-Russian sentiment is high among some Poles, leading local police to fear the team's hotel might turn into a target during the march.

When it was put to him that Poland claimed to have offered alternative accommodation, Advocaat said: "They are lying."

In private conversations with two representatives of the Russian delegation, Polish ministers denied having ever suggested the team switch hotels, Advocaat said.

"We were rather late to take the hotel, and it was one of the few hotels still available. "We had not much choice. Otherwise we have to fly from other places," he said.

--IANS/Ria Novosti

abr/vm



-IANS


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