Belarus Runner

August 3, 2021
Belarus Runner

I was put under pressure, and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent.

Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya says she feared for her life if she should return to her home country of Belarus.
  • Tsimanouskaya is a 24-year-old Olympic sprinter.
  • She spoke out against the management of her team – for example, she complained that coaches entered her into an event (the 4x400m relay) which she had never run before.
  • The government of Belarus does not allow open criticism of authority. According to reports, after her criticism she was hastily rushed to the airport to fly home. She says she feared to return and approached law enforcement authorities at the airport before she was scheduled to leave.
  • “The campaign was quite serious and that was a clear signal that her life would be in danger in Belarus,” said Alexander Opeikin, a spokesman for the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, a group supporting her.
  • Poland granted Tsimanouskaya a visa and offered her refuge.
  • Why It Matters: The government of Belarus, an ally of Russia, has actively combatted any dissent or criticism of its policies. This speaks to the severity of the censorship which appears to be intensifying, not dissipating, despite international awareness. The leaders of the Belarusian government are banned from the Games because of athletes' fear of reprisal for the recent protest efforts against those in power.

The Associated Press – Poland grants visa to Belarus Olympian who fears for safety

Here's some perspective from SmartHER News on a recent "hijacking" arranged by Belarus, Russia to jail an activist who criticized the government.

by Jenna Lee,