Belarusian Olympic skier and Lukashenko critic fined over protest

An Olympic freestyle skier has been fined in Belarus for violating laws against mass opposition protests.

Aliaksandra Ramanouskaya was arrested after a training session on Wednesday, according to the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF).

The 25-year-old athlete was taken to a police station in Minsk and charged on Thursday, the organisation said.

Ramanouskaya — who was named Belarus’ Sportswoman of the Year in 2019 — was fined more than €700, the foundation added.

“Freestyle skier Alexandra Romanovskaya received a fine of 90 base units,” the BSSF said on Facebook.

“She was charged … for violating the established procedure for holding a meeting, rally, street procession, demonstration, picketing, other mass event committed by a participant in such events.”

Ramanouskaya has been a vocal critic of Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko following his disputed re-election last August.

According to the BSSF — which supports athletes who are sidelined for their political views — Ramanouskaya had planned to compete in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

She had previously participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and was a 2019 world champion in freestyle skiing.

Ramanouskaya joined hundreds of other Belarusian athletes and coaches who signed an open protest letter last year demanding the release of political prisoners.

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A number of sportspeople have since been detained or dismissed by Minsk.

At the Tokyo Olympics this summer, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight home on the orders of her team after she publicly criticised national coaches.

Tsimanouskaya has since defected to Poland, saying she feared for her safety if she returned to Belarus.

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