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World Champion Kickboxer May Face 'Torture, Repression And Even Death' If Extradited From Russia To Belarus


Alexey Kudin, MMA fighter from Belarus

World champion kickboxer Alexey Kudin faces possible extradition from Russia to his homeland of Belarus amid concern the athlete may be politically persecuted and tortured.

Kudin, nicknamed the Brick, was detained in Moscow after fleeing to Russia in the autumn, the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Fund wrote on Instagram January 21.

The mixed martial arts fighter faces extradition to Belarus on charges of assaulting a security officer during pro-democracy protests against strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

The athlete, who has made sharp statements about Belarusian security forces and the government on social media, may face "torture, repression, and even death" if extradited to Belarus, the foundation said.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered fraudulent.

Kudin was at an anti-government rally in the central town of Maladzyechna a day after the disputed August 9 presidential election when security forces attacked protesters with tear gas and batons.

During the melee, the heavyweight world champion kickboxer knocked out a security officer.

The fighter was later arrested near a hospital, where he went to treat his injuries.

While in detention, he was beaten and shot with rubber bullets again before being released on house arrest two weeks later.

He then fled to Russia, skipping his trial in November and was declared wanted.

Several protesters have been killed and thousands arrested during the ongoing mass demonstrations demanding Lukashenka's resignation following the August election.

There have also been credible reports of torture during a widening security crackdown.

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    RFE/RL's Belarus Service

    RFE/RL's Belarus Service is one of the leading providers of news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their own language. It is a bulwark against pervasive Russian propaganda and defies the government’s virtual monopoly on domestic broadcast media.

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