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Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has been granted a humanitarian visa by the Polish government so she can apply for refugee status in Poland. Her husband, Arsen Zhdanevich, had fled to Ukraine from Belarus as his wife continues to fight repatriation.
Tsimanouskaya was seen entering the Polish Embassy on August 2 after appealing for Japanese and international help to avoid being put on a flight against her will and spending the night at Tokyo’s international airport after apparently running afoul of Belarusian officials.
Japanese police officers intervened at the airport to prevent Belarusian authorities from placing her on a flight to take her back to Belarus. They kept her in their custody overnight until they could take her to the Polish Embassy the next morning to receive her visa.
“I can confirm that we have issued a humanitarian visa. I can confirm that we will provide all necessary support in Poland if she wishes to use it,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said on August 2.
Polish officials have said the sprinter requested the humanitarian visa and that she will be eligible to seek refugee status once in Poland. The activist group Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF) has said it has purchased Tsimanouskaya a plane ticket to Warsaw, and that she plans to seek asylum.
Multiple reports said Tsimanouskaya’s husband, Arsen Zhdanevich, had traveled to Ukraine from Belarus as his wife continues to fight repatriation.
The Lukashenko regime has been brutal in its crackdown of dissent in Belarus.
Lukashenka has long regarded sports as an effective forum for countering adverse news about decades of human rights violations and political repression in Belarus.
Lukashenka served as head of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee until recently handing over its leadership to his eldest son, Viktar, in a move that was not recognized by the IOC.
Alyaksandr Opeikin, a spokesman for the BSSF, which supports opposition athletes, told Current Time that Tsimanouskaya’s fears have been compounded by the airing of several “lambasting programs” on “propaganda TV channels.”
There were other countries that offered their help:
The sprinter’s plight, which erupted when she sought help to avoid being hustled by Belarusian handlers onto a flight at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on August 1, has led to offers of help from Poland, France, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia.
Poland, a country that pays their full NATO obligation, becomes more impressive with each passing day.
Poland will purchase 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 main battle tanks from the U.S., replacing older tanks dating back to the Cold War. The tanks will arm Polish Army units guarding against incursions by the Russian Army.
The purchase is a pretty remarkable turnaround of events, considering the U.S. originally designed the M1 tank to fight Soviet and Polish forces on the battlefields of Western Europe.
Poland belonged to the Soviet-backed Warsaw Pact from 1954 to 1991. The Polish Army operated the Soviet-designed T-72M1 main battle tank, and then the T-72 based PT-91 tank. The service also maintains about 250 German-made Leopard 2 A4 and A5 main battle tanks.
While the Leopard 2s are reasonably new, the T-72M1 and PT-91 tanks are obsolete by modern standards and thus need to be replaced. The addition of 250 Abrams will soon give Poland one of the most powerful tank forces in Europe.
As always by clicking on the links you can read the entire story from Radio Free Europe, as well as Popular Mechanics.Published in