| 2 February 2023, Thursday |

Belarusian police detain Olympic skier for violating protest laws

Belarusian police detained and fined freestyle skier Aliaksandra Ramanouskaya in the capital Minsk for allegedly violatingprotest laws, according to a foundation that supports athletes jailed or sidelined for their political views.

The Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation said Ramanouskaya, 25, was detained after a training session on Wednesday and was being held at a police station in Minsk.

Ramanouskaya, the 2019 world champion in aerials, was fined more than $1,000 on Thursday for her alleged offences, the foundation said.

The Minsk police confirmed that the 25-year-old, who competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, had been detained for an administrative offence but gave no details on the alleged infraction.

Two representatives of the Belarusian Interior Ministry could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment.

Ramanouskaya is among the signatories of an open letter of protest signed by more than 2,000 Belarusian sports figures, coaches and athletics personnel, that condemned as fraudulent the 2020 presidential election that saw Alexander Lukashenko retain power. He denies accusations that the vote was rigged.

The letter, which demanded a re-run of the vote, also called for the release of all those detained during mass street protests which erupted across Belarus after the election and which the authorities quashed.

A number of Belarusian athletes who took part in the protests or voiced support for the opposition – including Olympic decathlete Andrei Krauchanka and basketball player Yelena Leuchanka – were detained and served stints in jail.

Others lost their state employment or were kicked off national teams.

At the Tokyo Olympics this year, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight back home when she was removed from the Games against her will by her team after she publicly complained about national coaches.

She defected to Poland, saying she feared for her safety if she returned to Belarus.

  • Reuters