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Russian nationalists, communists rage at Arshavin 'betrayal'


MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) - The leader of a Russian ultranationalist party hit out at Andrei Arshavin on Tuesday over the player's plans to join English side Arsenal.

"Why have you sold out to an English club? England has only caused our country harm," said Vladimir Zhirinovsky on the LDPR official website.

"Our conmen run around there, and our fugitive oligarchs who stole money in Russia hide from justice there. If you are fed up of playing for Zenit, there are many other clubs [in Russia] like Spartak, CSKA, Dynamo and Lokomotiv. Think again!" the statement said.

Zhirinovsky caused international alarm when his LDPR party came first in Russia's 1993 parliamentary elections on the back of a confrontational and fiercely nationalist campaign. Although his party's share of the votes has gone down since then, it is still the third largest in the State Duma.

His recent comments on the latest installment of the "Arshavin soap opera" were echoed by the leader of a St. Petersburg communist group.

The Communists of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region first criticized the player in December, saying his desire to move to a foreign club was a "betrayal."

"Our position has not changed," Sergei Malinkovich said on the group's website. 'This is a moral betrayal at a time when spectators are skimping on food to watch Zenit games."

He also called on "female fans" to "take revenge" on Arshavin. "I urge you not to love the insidious Arsh any longer ... Bite your tongue and forget about him," he added.

Arshavin, whose move to Arsenal has yet to be approved by the English FA, has not commented.

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