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IOC Refuses To Recognize Lukashenka's Son As Belarus's Olympic Chairman

Viktar Lukashenka attends a meeting in Minsk on February 26.
Viktar Lukashenka attends a meeting in Minsk on February 26.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has refused to recognize Viktar Lukashenka, the eldest son of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, as the new chairman of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Belarus.

In a statement on March 8, the IOC said that it also refused to recognize the head of Belarus’s ice hockey federation, Dzmitry Baskau, as a member of the NOC Executive Board, adding that it also decided to maintain the exclusion of the two men from all IOC events and activities, including the Olympic Games.

The Belarusian NOC was led by Alyaksandr Lukashenka from 1997 until last month. Lukashenka's son, Viktar, was named the new NOC chairman late last month after leaving the post of presidential aide on national security.

Viktar Lukashenka and Baskau were among Belarusian officials targeted by EU sanctions last year over ongoing violence and police brutality against peaceful demonstrators, who have protested against official results of the presidential election last August that pronounced Alyaksandr Lukashenka the winner for the sixth time since 1994.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues his brutal crackdown on NGOs, activists, and independent media following the August 2020 presidential election.

Baskau, who is known as a close ally of Lukashenka, has been implicated in the killing of an anti-Lukashenka protester, Raman Bandarenka, in November 2020.

The IOC also said in its statement that it decided to "suspend all financial payments to the NOC of Belarus," with several exceptions, and to "suspend any discussions with the NOC of Belarus regarding the hosting of future IOC events."

The IOC also urged the NOC and its member federations "to ensure that there is no political discrimination in the participation of the Belarusian athletes in qualification events, and in the final selection of the team of the NOC of Belarus, for all Olympic Games."

Several prominent Belarusian athletes have been handed jail terms of 10 to 15 days for their open support of the ongoing protests, demanding Lukashenka's resignation.

In January, nearly 350 Belarusian athletes and other members of the sports community signed an open letter calling for the presidential election to be annulled and for all "political prisoners" and those detained during mass demonstrations that followed to be released.

Thousands of protesters in Belarus, including dozens of journalists covering the protests, have been detained by authorities, some handed prison terms, and hundreds beaten in detention and on the streets.

Several protesters have been killed in the violence, and some rights organizations say there is credible evidence of torture being used by security officials against some detainees.

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