Las Vegas, Nevada 2021-08-05 08:45:31 –
Warsaw, Poland (AP) — Belarusian Olympic sprinter, fearing retaliation at home after criticizing his coach at the Tokyo Olympics, advised his grandmother not to return to Belarus, but “don’t be afraid” to fellow citizens He said on Thursday that he urged him.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya left the tournament on Wednesday and arrived in Poland a few days after accusing team officials of trying to force her back into Belarus, where the authoritarian government is relentlessly pursuing critics. She told reporters Thursday that authorities had told her she was injured and had to go home early, but she refused.
Meanwhile, after returning home, her criticism of social media about how her team is managed has sparked a massive backlash from the state media. Her grandmother said on the phone she had a television report that she was mentally ill and told her that it was best not to return.
At a press conference in Warsaw on Thursday, Zimanuskaya thanked the people who supported her during the dramatic standoffs.
“It was all over the world, and these people make me much stronger,” she said.
She also had a message to her fellow Belarusians.
“I want to tell all Belarusians not to be afraid, and if they are under pressure, raise your voice,” said Runner.
Poland has granted Tsimanouskaya a humanitarian visa, and the 24-year-old said she wanted to quickly understand how she could continue her career. She said she would talk to Polish authorities about her next steps on Friday. She added that she hopes the Tokyo Olympics aren’t her last Olympics — and she wants to go home someday when it’s safe.
Many Belarusian activists have fled to Poland to avoid a brutal crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko’s government.
In a series of fire events that brought an international drama to the Tokyo Olympics, Zimanuskaya said Belarusian team officials rushed her to the airport, criticized how the team was running, and then tried to get her home early. Told. She refused to fly, and European nations critical of Lukashenko’s rule provided assistance.
On Wednesday, Zimanuskaya flew from Tokyo via Vienna. The detour route indicated by the Polish authorities was for safety reasons.
Standoffs have received more attention from Belarus’ uncompromising authoritarian government. Authorities responded with a thorough crackdown when the country was upset by months of protests after the election that gave Lukashenko the sixth term, but the opposition and the West considered it fraudulent. About 35,000 people were arrested and thousands of demonstrators were beaten. The government is also targeting independent media and opposition figures.
Belarusian authorities arrested dissident journalists in May, directing a jet airliner to the capital of Minsk, as a sign that authorities were trying to silence critics.
Zimanuskaya’s criticism was aimed at team officials, who complained that she was planning to attend an event she had never attended, but her rebellion was with the political bureau. It may not have been in good harmony. Lukashenko, who headed the National Olympic Committee in Belarus for about a quarter of a century, has a keen interest in sports before handing over to his son in February and sees sports as an important element of national fame. ..
Tsimanouskaya’s husband, Arseni Zdanevich, fled Belarus this week shortly after saying his wife wouldn’t come back. Poland has also given him a visa and he is expected to join her.
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