- Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko said the sprinter who fled the Olympics was swayed into accusing her handlers of being KGB agents.
- Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a plane at Tokyo’s Haneda airport last week, claiming she would face a jail term back in Belarus.
- She was granted a Polish visa on humanitarian grounds on August 2.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed the Olympic sprinter who fled the Tokyo Games in a dramatic asylum bid was “manipulated” by her Polish “buddies.”
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, refused to board a plane at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on August 1 and told the Japanese authorities that she would face jail time in Belarus for complaining about her coaches.
“She wouldn’t do it herself. She was manipulated. It was from Japan, from Tokyo, that she contacted her buddies in Poland. They told her, literally when you come to the airport, run to a Japanese police officer and shout that those who dropped her off at the airport are KGB agents,” Lukashenko said at a press conference at his presidential palace in Minsk attended by Reuters.
“There was not a single special service agent in Japan,” Lukashenko said.
Tsimanouskaya criticized her coaches on social media after they entered her into the women’s 400-meter relay event with close to no notice and without having trained for it. The sprinter said she was forced onto a plane home for speaking about the “negligence of (her) coaches” in the now-deleted Instagram video, per Reuters.
“I am afraid that in Belarus they might put me in jail,” she told the Belarusian news outlet Zerkalo.io on August 1. “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.”
The Polish government granted Tsimanouskaya a humanitarian visa on August 2.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on August 3 launched an investigation into Tsimanouskaya’s claim that she would be jailed for critiquing her coaches. On August 6, two Belarusian Olympic coaches, Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich, were kicked out of the Tokyo Games and stripped of their credentials by the IOC.
In the same press conference, Lukashenko denied involvement in the death of Belarusian activist Vitaly Shishov, who was found hanged in a park in Ukraine. Shishov was known to have helped Belarusians get out of the country to escape persecution from Lukashenko’s government, per The Guardian.
“(Shishov) was no one to us,” Lukashenko said during the press conference, per Reuters.
Lukashenko’s administration garnered attention earlier this year for taking dramatic steps to silence its critics.
On May 23, the Belarusian authorities sent a fighter jet to divert a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Lithuania to detain journalist Roman Protasevich, 26, a vocal opponent of Lukashenko’s rule. Protasevich, the co-founder of NEXTA, an anti-Lukashenko news channel based in Poland, was in exile in the neighboring country of Lithuania until he and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, were dragged off the Ryanair plane and detained.
Lukashenko has ruled over the eastern European country with an iron fist for more than 26 years. He rigged the 2020 election, declaring that he won 80% of the vote and giving himself a sixth term as president, a move that sparked protests across the country.
Courtesy By INSIDER