Football fans jailed for chanting anti-Putin song

Eight Ukrainian footballs fans have been jailed by a court in Minsk, Belarus, for singing, what the court has deemed, an insulting song about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The eight men had joined in anti-Putin songs during the Euro 2016 qualifier game between Belarus and Ukraine. Seven of the men have been sentenced to five days in jail for using obscene language while one must complete his 10-day sentence for possessing a fascist swastika symbol on his clothing.

Numerous other Belarusian football fans were also convicted and fined for participating in the chants. According to the Belarusian newspaper Nasha Niva, both visiting and local fans joined in a rousing rendition of a popular song that expresses opposition to Putin in Ukraine.

While Belarusian fans voiced their signature slogan “Glory to Ukraine”, Ukrainians returned with the chant “Long Live Belarus”.  Reports from the opposition website, Charter ’97 said that after the game, 30 Belarusians and approximately 100 Ukrainians were taken to the local KGB station and held.

This is not the first time the anti-Putin song has created a stir. In June, Russian officials called for the resignation of (then) Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Andriy Deshchytsya, after he participated in the song with Kiev protesters.

In April, Russian parliament passed a bill that bans swearing in music and films.