Belarus pursues Timanovskaya: “Scandal” surprises Olympic athlete who has fled

Belarus is persecuting Timanovskaya
“Scandal” surprises the Olympian who has fled

The athlete Kristina Timanowskaja, persecuted by the Belarusian head of state Alexander Lukashenko, landed in Poland after her departure from the Olympic Games. She wants to build a new life there because returning home seems impossible.

After arriving in Poland, the Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanovskaya, who fled, expressed her relief. She was “happy to be safe,” said the 24-year-old, who gained worldwide fame with kidnapping allegations against her own delegation during the Olympic Games, in Warsaw. Poland has offered Timanovskaya a humanitarian visa, which she intends to accept.

Timanovskaya said she was “surprised that the situation turned into such a political scandal because it started as a sporting problem”. The sprinter said: “I just want to pursue my sporting career. I spoke to my parents and they said Poland would be a good option because they could move here at some point.”

Timanowskaja reported that her husband Arseni Zdanewitsch was also on the way to Poland, where more and more Belarusian government critics are seeking refuge. The Polish government announced that Zdanewitsch will also receive a humanitarian visa. Her parents told her “that they say bad things about me on (Belarusian; ed.) Television. I got a lot of bad news, but even more messages of support,” said Timanovskaya.

IOC sets up commission

In their case, high-ranking politicians from Europe and the United States had also intervened. For example, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his US counterpart Antony Blinken condemned the alleged actions of the Belarusian delegation, which Timanovskaya wanted to withdraw from the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Sunday against their will and bring them home because of critical statements about their coaches.

It is uncertain what the consequences of this will be for the National Olympic Committee of Belarus. Athletes’ associations had called for immediate exclusion during the Tokyo Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had already imposed sanctions on the NOK last year. The internationally controversial head of state Alexander Lukashenko had to resign from his position as chairman, and the IOC has refused to recognize his son and successor Viktor. In addition, the financial contributions are suspended.

On Wednesday, the IOC set up a disciplinary commission and announced that it would question athletics trainer Yuri Moisewitsch and functionary Artur Shumak on the Timanovskaya case. Timanovskaya was one of 2,000 athletes who signed an open letter calling for new government elections and the release of political prisoners. Lukashenko has been using police force against the democracy movement in his country since the 2020 election.


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