Belarus: Football fans jailed for anti-Putin chant
- 10 October 2014
A court in the Belarusian capital Minsk has jailed eight Ukrainian football fans after they sang an insulting song about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
One man was sent to prison for 10 days for possessing fascist symbols. Seven others were jailed for five days for using obscene language.
They had joined in anti-Putin chants and songs at the Euro 2016 qualifier between Ukraine and Belarus.
A number of Belarusian fans were also convicted and fined.
Both local and visiting fans at the Euro 2016 qualifier between Ukraine and Belarus in Borisov came together in a rousing rendition of a well-known song - which has became a popular expression of opposition to Putin in Ukraine, the Belarusian paper Nasha Niva reports.
Belarusian fans are also heard voicing their solidarity with their Ukrainian counterparts by chanting the signature slogan of the Maidan protests in Kiev - Slava Ukrayini ("Glory to Ukraine").
The Ukrainians return the favour by chanting Zhyve Belarus ("Long live Belarus").
After the match, about 100 Ukrainian and 30 Belarusian were initially held and taken to the local KGB station, according to the opposition website Charter '97.
A court later sentenced seven Ukrainians to five days in prison for "foul language", the Ukrayinska Pravda news website reports.
Four others were fined, while one Ukrainian fan was given a 10-day sentence for allegedly wearing a swastika on his clothing.
It's not the first time the anti-Putin song has made waves. In June, Russian officials called for the resignation of the then Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Andriy Deshchytsya, after he joined Kiev protesters in insulting Putin.
The authorities in Moscow are frowning on fruity language more generally - in April, parliament passed a bill that bans swearing from films, music and other works of art.
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