Olympic medalist sentenced to 12 years in prison for criticising Belarus government

Olympic medalist sentenced to 12 years in prison for criticising Belarus government. Photo by Celso Pupo Shutterstock.com

Belarussian summer Aliaksandra Herasimenia who won a silver medal in the London Olympics was sentenced on Monday, December 26, after the athlete criticised President Alexander Lukashenko’s support towards the Russian military campaign in Ukraine.

The Olympic swimmer Aliaksandra Herasimenia from Belarus has been sentenced in absence for 12 years in prison by President Alexander Lukashenko’s government. The sentence was given after Herasimenia criticised Lukashenko for supporting Russia’s campaign against the Ukrainians

Herasimenia has been previously critical of Lukashenko’s regime and is also a founder of the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Fund (FBSD), which was created to help athletes that have been persecuted in her country. The group helps athletes that have been jailed in the country or sidelined due to their political views.  

The government has also arrested Alexandr Opeinik, another of the founders of the FBSD, who also received the same sentence. Both were found guilty of calling for sanctions against Belarus including other actions that the government claims harmed the national security of the country.  

The athlete previously won the silver medal for Belarus in 50 and 100-meter freestyle, during the 2010 London Olympic Games. She later won a bronze medal in the 50-meter freestyle during the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

Herasimenia has been critical of the war in Ukraine and had also made a statement on the same day Russia invaded the country that said, “Ukraine has never been our enemy, it is a brother nation”.

The Belarusian athlete is reported to have sold a 2012 World Championship medal in April 2021, to raise funds for her foundations and to pay for the legal fees in another case for criticizing the Belarus Government.

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Written by

Imran Khan