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Belarus Files Complaint As Ukraine Takes Olympic Skiing Gold

Olexandr Abramenko celebrates with a Ukrainian flag after taking gold in the men's aerials event at the Winter Olympics.

Oleksandr Abramenko has won Olympic freestyle skiing gold for Ukraine in the men's aerials competition at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

But his victory has raised hackles in Belarus, whose reigning champion narrowly failed to qualify for the final.

The 29-year-old Ukrainian posted a score of 128.51 points on February 18 to give his country its third-ever gold medal in the Winter Olympics. Abramenko is also the first Ukrainian man to win a medal at the Winter Games.

China's Jia Zongyang earned the silver medal and Ilia Burov of the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) team took the bronze.

The two other gold medals won by Ukraine at the Winter Olympics came in 1994 when Oksana Baiul captured the title in women's figure skating and in 2014 when the women's biathlon team earned the top spot in the relay.

The result in South Korea means Belarus has failed to secure a medal in the event for the first time since 1994.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo)
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo)

Speaking to journalists in Minsk, Belarus’s President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he had lodged a complaint with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), accusing the judges of unfairly "throwing out" Belarusian skier Anton Kushnir from the final.

"This is a complete disgrace," said Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus since 1994.

"I had to raise the alarm with the Foreign Ministry ... to send a government telegram to [IOC President Thomas] Bach. I told him everything I think," he added.

Kushnir, 33, who won gold for Belarus at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, was a hair's breadth away from qualifying on February 17, posting a score that was just 0.45 points behind the last of the top six competitors who progressed to the final.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP