Belarus athlete leaves Tokyo and will travel to Poland after humanitarian visa
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanovskaya (Krystsina Tsimanouskaya) left Tokyo after obtaining help from the embassy of Poland in Japan. Hence, once reaching Austria, it is believed that she will take up residence in Poland after being issued a humanitarian visa.
Timanovskaya told the BBC that “This is about the mistakes that have been made by our officials at the Olympics.”
She continued, “I love my country and I didn’t betray my country.”
However, it is clear that Timanovskaya feared punishment if sent back to Belarus. Also, it highlights the state of affairs in Belarus under the leadership of President Lukashenko.
A brutal clampdown by the state apparatus happened last year after mass political protests broke out throughout Belarus. Lukashenko responded by allowing authorities to arrest political dissenters, protesters, and anyone deemed a threat to his autocratic leadership. Therefore, the actions of Timanovskaya are based on the pervading fear that persists in Belarus under Lukashenko.
Japan, the Embassy of Poland in Tokyo, and the International Olympic Committee all acted appropriately once Timanovskaya asked for help. A humanitarian visa was granted by Poland while under the protection of Japan. Therefore, all sides have acted quickly.
The Guardian reports, “She said in an interview with the Associated Press that officials from her team had “made it clear” she would face punishment if she returned home to an autocratic government that has relentlessly stifled any criticism.”
Only this week the murky death of Vitaly Shishov was announced. He died in suspicious circumstances near his home in Ukraine. Shishov was a known Belarusian activist. Therefore, the fear in Belarus is pervasive and this also applies to the outreach of the state apparatus beyond the borders of the country.
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland, Marcin Przydacz, declared that Poland would help Timanovskaya. Przydacz said, Poland would do “whatever is necessary to help her continue her sporting career.”
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