Belarus Olympic Sprinter Is Granted Asylum In Poland After Fleeing The Olympic Games In Japan

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Belarus Olympic Sprinter Is Granted Asylum In Poland After Fleeing The Olympic Games In Japan

A sprinter competing for Belarus at the Tokyo Olympics has been given asylum in Poland after she said she feared for her safety and that she would be arrested and jailed if she returned to Belarus.


Krystina Timanovskaya, who is 24, has said that she was forcibly taken from her team camp in Japan after publicly criticising her coaches. The Belarus team has said she was removed due to her' emotional state'.


It has also been reported that her husband has fled the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and will be joining the sprinter in Poland.


On a video on Telegram, Timanovskaya, could be heard saying:


"They are trying to get me out of the country without my permission."


Adding in a later interview:


"I am afraid that in Belarus they might put me in jail. I am not afraid that I will be fired or kicked out of the national [team]. I am worried about my safety. And I think that at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus."


Her coach told the media:


"I was trying to have a calm conversation with her and I succeeded. Then I noticed that she would stop the conversation and start it again, then she would grab the phone and I saw that something was happening."


Belarus is known as 'Europe's last dictatorship' and has been ruled by President Lukashenko for almost 28 years. The dictatorship cracked down hard on dissidents after last year's rigged elections which saw mass protests across the country. Thousands of activists were detained, jailed and tortured, and opposition leaders were required to flee the country and seek asylum in neighbouring states.


Belarus TV, controlled by the government, has criticised the Olympian for 'lacking team spirit'.


Belarus has come under severe economic and political sanctions over the last year, firstly due to its actions against its own people. These sanctions were tightened even further when a Belarus journalist who was living abroad was kidnapped by the Belarus state. The incident involved a Ryanair flight being forced to land as it flew over Belarus airspace and the journalist being detained.


Heather McGill, Amnesty International's Eastern Europe and Central Asia researcher, said:


"Athletes are favoured by the state and honoured by society, and it is not surprising that athletes who speak out find themselves a target for reprisals."


[h/t: BBC]


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Thinking Humanity: Belarus Olympic Sprinter Is Granted Asylum In Poland After Fleeing The Olympic Games In Japan
Belarus Olympic Sprinter Is Granted Asylum In Poland After Fleeing The Olympic Games In Japan
A sprinter competing for Belarus at the Tokyo Olympics has been given asylum in Poland after she said she feared for her safety and that she would be
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