Poland gives refuge to Belarusian athlete fleeing Lukashenko repression


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The athlete bielorrusa Krystsina Tsimanóuskaya, threatened with forced repatriation to her country after criticizing the sports authorities in the Tokyo Olympics, received a humanitarian visa from Poland on Monday.

The case, which has shaken the Games since Sunday, comes after almost a year of fierce repression of any protest in Belarus, a former Soviet republic situated between Russia and the European Union (EU) and ruled with an iron fist since 1994 by President Alexander Lukashenko. The sprinter fears being jailed if she returns to her country, which in the last year has seen thousands of arrests and forced exiles of opponents, as well as the liquidation of many NGOs and independent media.

Krystsina TsimanóuskayaThe 24-year-old explained on Sunday that she was forced to end her participation in the Games on the orders of her team’s coach. A few days earlier, he had harshly criticized the Belarusian Athletics Federation for forcing her to participate in the 4×400 meter relay, when in principle she had to run the 100 and 200 meters.

According to her, the change is due to the fact that two other athletes had not passed a sufficient number of doping controls. The athlete was escorted to the airport by officials of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee where he had to spend the night in a hotel before returning to his country.

But from the hotel during the night she contacted heads of the organizing committee of the Games to help her take the plane to Belarus. The athlete rejected the forced return because she claims to have “Fear” of ending up in jail. The young woman was hardly known before this case, but had publicly expressed her simpatient for the anti-Lukashenko movement.

Finally he went on Monday to the Polish embassy in Tokyo and the Polish government confirmed that it had granted him a humanitarian visa. Tsimanóuskaya received a humanitarian visa and “Poland will do whatever it takes to help her continue her sports career,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz, whose country hosts many dissidents from Belarus, wrote on Twitter. The Czech Republic and Slovenia had also volunteered to welcome her.

On marido, Arseni Zdanevitch, contacted by phone by AFP, said that he had gone to Ukraine due to the conflict between his wife and the Belarusian authorities, which threatened the “safety” of the couple. He plans to meet her in Poland.

According to Alexander Opeikin, executive director of the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation (BSSF)Krystsina Tsimanóuskaya, an organization that supports athletes in the crosshairs of the Minsk authorities, “is holding on.”

“It is clear that it is a stressful situation, not only for athletes, but for anyone who is subjected to such pressure,” he said. According to another head of this NGO, Anatoli Kotov, the sprinter is expected to arrive in Poland on a flight scheduled for Wednesday.

The Belarusian opponent in exile, Svetlana Tijanóvskaya He accused the Olympic officials in his country of trying to “kidnap” the athlete. “Not a single Belarusian who has crossed the country’s borders is safe, because they could try to kidnap him,” he wrote on Telegram on Sunday, calling for stronger international sanctions against Minsk. Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had confirmed that the athlete was “safe” in Japan.

The Japanese government “will continue to cooperate closely with the organizations involved and take appropriate measures,” dealing with the case “in accordance with the law,” said Monday. government spokesman Katsunobu Kato.

The incident occurs while the regime of the presidente Alexander Lukashenko, whose son Viktor heads the National Olympic Committee, continues the relentless crackdown on pro-democracy activists. Belarusian state television criticized the athlete, saying she had “turned her Tokyo appearance into a great scandal.”

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