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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Belarusian Olympic sprinter who criticized her coaches on the Tokyo Video games mentioned Thursday that she confirmed police on the airport a translated plea for assist on her cellphone as she tried to keep away from being put on a airplane again house.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya left the Video games and arrived in Poland on Wednesday, days after she accused staff officers of attempting to drive her to fly again to Belarus, the place an authoritarian authorities has relentlessly pursued its critics.
She informed reporters Thursday that the officers informed her to say she was injured and needed to go house early, however she refused.
In the meantime, again house, her criticism on social media of how her staff was being managed set off an enormous backlash in state-run media. Her grandmother informed her by cellphone there have been studies on tv that she was mentally unwell and mentioned it was finest for her to not return.
At a information convention in Warsaw on Thursday, Tsimanouskaya thanked individuals who supported her throughout the dramatic standoff.
“It was the whole world, and these people make me much stronger,” she mentioned.
She additionally had a message for her fellow Belarusians.
“I want to tell all Belarusians not to be afraid and if they’re under pressure, speak out,” the runner mentioned.
Poland has granted Tsimanouskaya a humanitarian visa, and the 24-year-old mentioned she hoped to determine quickly how she may proceed her profession. She mentioned she is going to converse with Polish officers on Friday about her subsequent steps. She added that she hoped the Tokyo Video games wouldn’t be her final Olympics — and that she desires to return house sooner or later, when it’s secure.
Lots of Belarus’ activists have fled to Poland to keep away from a brutal crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko’s authorities.
In rapid-fire collection of occasions that introduced worldwide drama to the Tokyo Video games, Tsimanouskaya mentioned Belarus staff officers hustled her to the airport and tried to ship her house early after she criticized how her staff was being managed. She refused to board the airplane, and European nations which might be essential of Lukashenko’s rule supplied help.
On Wednesday, Tsimanouskaya flew from Tokyo by way of Vienna, a circuitous route that Polish officers indicated was for safety causes.
The standoff has drawn extra consideration to Belarus’ uncompromising authoritarian authorities. When the nation was rocked by months of protests following an election that handed Lukashenko a sixth time period however that the opposition and the West noticed as rigged, authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown. Some 35,000 folks had been arrested and 1000’s of demonstrators crushed. The federal government has additionally focused unbiased media and opposition figures.
In an indication of the lengths authorities are keen to go to silence their critics, Belarus officers diverted a passenger jet to the capital of Minsk in Could and arrested a dissident journalist who was on board.
Whereas Tsimanouskaya’s criticism was aimed toward staff officers — she complained that she was scheduled to take part in an occasion she had by no means competed in — her defiance might haven’t sit properly with political authorities. Lukashenko, who led the Belarus Nationwide Olympic Committee for nearly a quarter-century earlier than handing over the job to his son in February, has a eager curiosity in sports activities, seeing it as a key component of nationwide status.
Tsimanouskaya’s husband, Arseni Zdanevich, fled Belarus this week shortly after his spouse mentioned she wouldn’t be returning. Poland has additionally granted him a visa, and he’s anticipated to affix her.