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11 Nov, 2021 11:55

Belarusian world freestyle skiing champ detained – reports

Belarusian world freestyle skiing champ detained – reports

Belarusian freestyle skiing aerials world champion Alexandra Romanovskaya has been detained in Minsk, according to reports. The move is claimed to be the latest crackdown on athletes opposed to leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Romanovskaya is said to have gone missing after training on November 10.

Reports state that she is now in custody at the Partizansky District Department of Internal Affairs in Minsk.

Belarus opposition group the Free Union of Athletes announced the news on its social media channels.

“Alexandra Romanovskaya warned her acquaintances about her arrest at about 22.00, asking them to take care of the cat that remained at her house,” read an Instagram post from the group.

“Friends of the athlete warned her parents about the incident.”

A hearing against Romanovskaya is reportedly scheduled for 12:45pm local time on Thursday.

Romanovskaya won the women’s freestyle aerials world title at Deer Valley in Utah, USA, in 2019.

She also appeared at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongyang, South Korea.  

The skiing star is said to have been active following the protests against longtime Belarusian leader Lukashenko in the wake of the 2020 presidential vote, when he was returned to power in a landslide.

The opposition to Lukashenko have accused the election of being rigged.

In August of 2020, Romanovskaya signed an open letter from athletes demanding an end to the violence against opposition protesters and a re-run of the election.

She is said to have been “fired” from the national team in October 2020 due to “absenteeism”.

Lukashenko and the Belarusian authorities stand accused of cracking down on athletes who voice their dissent to his leadership.

In a high-profile case, Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya fled her national team at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer after claiming she was being forcefully placed on a flight home for criticizing athletics officials.

Timanovskaya, 24, was granted refuge in Poland while two Belarusian athletics officials are being investigated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Athletics.    

“When will it all stop?” asked Timanovskaya on her Instagram Stories, sharing an image of Romanovskaya on Thursday.