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Swiss football fans end up in Ukraine war zone on way to Brazil game

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Swiss football fans end up in Ukraine war zone on way to Brazil game
Supporters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic at a rally to celebrate the 74th anniversary of Donbass liberation from German invaders during the Second World War. Photo: AFP
10:45 CEST+02:00
A group of Swiss football fans on their way to see the national team play Brazil in Russia accidentally ended up in a war zone, it has emerged.

The five football fans were travelling through Ukraine to the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in a minivan painted in the Swiss colours.

But while the route suggested by their GPS device was actually the shortest possible one to the stadium, the satnav failed to take in the political situation on the ground, Swiss regional daily Aargauer Zeitung reported.

The Swiss group ended up driving through the disputed Donbass region in eastern Ukraine where Ukrainian forces and separatists said to be backed by Russia have been engaged in a bitter struggle since the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.

The Swiss “almost ended up on the front line”, wrote Russian journalist Anna Dombrovskaya on Facebook.

The fans had also wanted to “spend the night in the [separatist] occupied city of Amvrosiivka”, the anti-Putin journalist who came across the group explained.

Dombrovskaya said she was amazed the group had not been stopped and turned back at Ukrainian roadblocks placed some distance from the front line of the conflict between Ukranian forces and separatists.

The Russian journalist was able to help the fans find a safer route to the match, which resulted in a surprise one-all draw.

On Monday, the Swiss football fans denied they had been in a war zone at any time or that they had been in danger.

They said that while they had been driving in the direction of the war zone, they knew they had to make a "generous detour" around the area", as one of the group told Swiss news portal 20 minutes.

While there is currently a ceasefire in place in the Donbass region, daily reports from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine show ongoing violations.

Read also: 'Indulgent' Swiss police to allow 60 minutes of celebratory car horns during World Cup

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