Ireland must lead the support for Belarusian athlete – Ward

2nd August 2021 - Senator Barry Ward

Fine Gael Dún Laoghaire Senator Barry Ward has called for action on the request from Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanovskaya for asylum in Japan, saying Ireland must lead the international community in calling for the protection of the Belarusians abroad who need it.

“Kristina Timanovskaya yesterday asked the International Olympic Committee for assistance in seeking asylum after she was pressurised to drop out of the Olympic Games and to return to Minsk against her will.

“This is a very worrying development and I am glad to see that authorities at the Tokyo games are taking this request for asylum seriously” said Senator Ward.

Kristina Timanovskaya was critical of Belarus sports authorities and was thereafter withdrawn from the Games by the Belarus Olympic organisation. The Belarus Sports Solidarity Foundation, which  represents Belarusian athletes repressed by Belarusian authorities, said that the athlete was told she must return to Minsk.

“Neither Kristina Timanovskaya, nor anyone else, should be forced to return to Belarus against their will. We know that there are still well over 500 political prisoners in Belarus. Anyone who is seen to be critical of the Lukashenko regime or a threat in any way, is at risk of imprisonment or other frightening consequences.

“Ireland must lead the international community in calling for protection for those Belarusians abroad, who need it,” the Senator concluded.

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