Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has followed in the footsteps of thousands of others deserting Lukashenko’s totalitarian state

Alexander Lukashenko has largely squeezed the life out of the protest movement that threatened his despotic hold on power last summer. As he has done so, a vicious, totalitarian mood has come to dominate all corners of life in Belarus. Earlier this month, there was a sweeping crackdown on NGOs, many of which were previously judged non-political. Independent media organisations have been harassed and shut down. The essential illegitimacy of Mr Lukashenko’s regime was exposed in the aftermath of the stolen elections of 2020. Its survival is now ensured by the brutal crushing of dissent wherever it is found.

Even at the Tokyo Olympics. The decision on Sunday by the Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to seek asylum in Poland followed what was ostensibly a sporting dispute. Ms Tsimanouskaya had publicly criticised the Belarus team’s coaches for failing…

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