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Belarus Detains, Fines Skier Who Signed Protest Letter


Alyaksandra Ramanouskaya competes in the women's aerials qualification event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Alyaksandra Ramanouskaya competes in the women's aerials qualification event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Belarusian authorities have fined former world champion freestyle skier Alyaksanrda Ramanouskaya for allegedly violating protest laws, according to a local group that supports athletes being persecuted for their political views.

The Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF) said in a social media post on November 11 that a court in Minsk fined Ramanouskaya 2,610 rubles ($1,000), after the 25-year-old athlete was detained by police following a training session a day earlier.

Belarusian officials have not commented on the case.

Ramanouskaya, the 2019 world ski aerials champion, was a signatory of a letter of protest signed by more than 2,000 Belarusian sports figures.

In January, Belarusian athletes and other members of the sports community signed the open letter calling for the results of the 2020 presidential election -- in which authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka declared victory despite opposition claims the vote was rigged -- to be annulled.

Belarusian Athletes Purged For Opposing Lukashenka
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It also called for all "political prisoners" and those detained in a brutal crackdown during mass demonstrations that followed to be released.

Several Belarusian athletes who took part in the protests or voiced support for the opposition have been detained or punished.

In one of the most high-profile cases, Belarusian team officials tried to force sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to fly home from the Tokyo Olympics after she criticized them on social media.

She took refuge in the Polish Embassy in Tokyo after refusing the order. Two days later she boarded a plane to Europe, reaching Warsaw, where she is living in exile.

The BSSF was founded in August 2020 by retired Belarusian swimmer Alyaksandra Herasimenia as protests erupted in Belarus after the disputed reelection of Lukashenka.

The organization provides financial and legal help to Belarusian athletes targeted by the authorities after calling for an end to the violent police crackdown on demonstrators.

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