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Hungary's players celebrate with fans after the Euro championship Group F match with France at Ferenc Puskas stadium in Budapest on June 19.

European football's governing body has ordered Hungary to play its next two UEFA matches without spectators for "the discriminatory behavior of its supporters" at the European Championships.

UEFA’s ruling on July 9 follows an investigation into alleged homophobic banners and monkey noises during Hungary's Euro 2020 group-stage matches last month in Budapest and Munich.

Hungary played its first two games of the tournament against Portugal and France at Budapest's Ferenc Puskas arena. UEFA on June 20 appointed an ethics and disciplinary inspector to conduct a probe into "potential discriminatory incidents" during those two matches.

The investigation was widened days later following the match between Germany and Hungary in Munich.

During the match against Portugal, images of a banner among the home supporters that read "ANTI LMBTQ" -- a reference to the Hungarian language abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer -- circulated on social media.

UEFA's Control Ethics and Disciplinary Body’s ruling on July 9 said Hungary should play its next three UEFA competition matches without fans. But it suspended the third of those matches for a probationary period of two years.

The Hungarian Football Federation also was fined 100,000 euros ($118,000) and ordered to display UEFA's #EqualGame banner at UEFA competition matches in which it serves as the host association.

Hungary is not scheduled to play another UEFA competition until the 2022-23 Nations League, which starts in June next year. The order does not apply to World Cup qualifiers, which fall under FIFA's jurisdiction.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa
Since last year's disputed presidential election, Belarusian security forces have cracked down hard on journalists, rights defenders, and pro-democracy demonstrators, arresting more than 35,000 people. (file photo)

Belarusian authorities raided the offices of several media outlets outside the capital, Minsk, and searched the homes of independent journalists on July 9 in the second straight day of the country's latest crackdown on independent press critical of authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The July 9 raids, most of which took place in the western city of Brest, came a day after the website of the country's oldest newspaper, Nasha Niva, was blocked and its chief editor was detained and reportedly beaten while security forces searched the offices of several regional newspapers.

Offices of news outlets were also raided in Baranovichi in the Brest region. Journalist Ruslan Ravyaka of the Baranovichi news portal Intex-Press was taken in for questioning by the KGB, the Belarusian state security agency, and was later released.

Journalist Tatsiana Smotkina's home was raided in the northern city of Hlybokaye, as was the apartment of the administrator of the Virtual Brest news portal, Andrey Kukharchyk. The Onliner Telegram channel reported that security forces also searched the home of its journalist, Anastasia Zenko.

Konstantin Bychek, the chief of the KGB's investigative department, told state television that a "large-scale operation" was under way to root out "radicals."

The Belarusian Association of Journalists reported that 32 media representatives have been detained since July 8.

Nasha Niva's editor in chief Yahor Martsinovich was beaten and suffered head injuries while being detained in a raid, the online publication reported on July 9.

It said that the raids on the outlet were carried out as part of a probe into actions that grossly violated public order.

The latest crackdown comes after authorities in May hit top independent news portal, whose website was blocked and 12 of its journalists were arrested. Also in May, authorities intercepted a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius and forced it to land in Minsk where they detained dissident blogger Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend, who were on board.

Belarusian Journalist Seized After Ryanair Jet 'Forcibly' Diverted To Minsk
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Both Nasha Niva and extensively covered months of protests against Lukashenka, which were triggered by his reelection to a sixth term on August 9 in a vote that was widely seen as rigged.

Since the election, security forces have cracked down hard on journalists, rights defenders, and pro-democracy demonstrators, arresting more than 35,000 people and pushing many activists and most of the top opposition figures out of the country.

Several protesters have been killed in the violence and some rights organizations say there is credible evidence of torture being used by security officials against some of those detained.

Leading opposition figures have been either jailed or forced to leave the country.

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition candidate in the election, who says she actually won the poll, condemned the latest raids.

"Our independent journalists suffer violence, torture in prison because they do their work," she wrote on Twitter on July 9.

Western nations have imposed a wide range of sanctions on Lukashenka and his regime over the crackdown, but they appear to have had limited effect as he retains support from key ally and financial backer Russia.

With reporting by AFP

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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