Exiled Olympian Tsimanouskaya ‘Warmly Welcomed’ In Poland After Threat To Her Life In Belarus
Belarussian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has arrived in Poland after officials attempted to forcibly send her back to her home country for criticising her coaches.
Tsimanouskaya flew to Warsaw via Vienna yesterday, August 4, just days after she escaped an attempt by Belarussian officials to put her on a plane back to Minsk and threaten her and her family.
The 24-year-old athlete was granted a humanitarian visa by Poland after her high profile ‘attempted kidnapping’ drew international outcry, with Tsimanouskaya claiming she feared she would be jailed, or worse, if she returned to her home country.
In a tweet, an advisor to Belarus’ exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya confirmed that Tsimanouskaya had ‘arrived safely’ and was ‘warmly welcomed’ to the Polish capital, adding, ‘Let’s hope this horror will end soon and Krystsina, as well as thousands of other exiled Belarusians, will be able to return home, to free and democratic Belarus.’
The crisis unfolded after Tsimanouskaya, a 200m sprinter, complained on Instagram that she had been entered in the 4x400m relay – an event she hadn’t trained for – and criticised the ‘negligence’ of Belarus’ sporting officials.
Although her post wasn’t explicitly political, she was later told to pack her bags and taken to Tokyo’s Narita airport to travel back to Belarus, with officials claiming the order for her to be taken from the games came ‘from the very top’. Tsimanouskaya refused to board the flight, and sought the help of airport police to protect her.
She’s since explained to CNN:
Before I got into the car, my grandmother called me. She said that I should not go back to Belarus because it was not safe for me there. She said they were saying bad things about me on (state-run) television: That I was ill; that I had psychological problems.
My parents understood that if they said those sort of things about me on TV, that I could most likely not return to my home in Belarus… I don’t know where they would take me. Maybe to jail, or maybe, more likely, to a psychological hospital.
In a leaked recording from the airport, officials can be heard telling Tsimanouskaya ‘that’s how suicide cases end up’ and warning ‘let this situation go. Otherwise, the more that you struggle, it will be like a fly caught in a spider’s web: the more it spins, the more it gets entangled,’ The Guardian reports.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read