A second Belarusian athlete has vowed not to return home over fears for her safety after the kidnap of Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya.
Heptathlete Yana Maksimova, 32, who currently lives in with her husband and daughter, said she has decided to stay there as the crackdown on protesters and government critics continues in .
Maksimava, who is married to Belarusian decathlete and Olympic silver medalist Andrey Krauchanka, said ‘you can lose not only freedom but also even your life’ under President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.
It comes as Tsimanouskaya, who evaded attempts to force her back to her homeland against her will after criticised Belarusian Olympic coaches at the weekend, is expected to land in the Austrian capital of Vienna following her flight to freedom.
Heptathlete Yana Maksimova, 32, who currently lives in Germany with her husband and daughter, said she has decided to stay there as the crackdown on protesters and government critics continues in Belarus
Maksimava, who is married to Belarusian decathlete and Olympic silver medalist Andrey Krauchanka, said ‘you can lose not only freedom but also even your life’ under President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.Pictured: Maksimava competes in the 2017 European Athletics indoor championships
Tsimanouskaya returned to Tokyo’s Narita airport this morning from the city’s Polish embassy – where she sought sanctuary after begging police to step in on Sunday as officials tried to bundle her onto a flight to Minsk.
Maksimava, who is hoping to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, said in a statement: ‘Thinking and thinking for a long time, we decided not to return to Belarus.
‘To our great regret, now there you can lose not only freedom, but also your life.’
The heptathlete, who came 17th in the women’s heptathlon competition at the 2012 London Olympic Games but failed to qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo, added: ‘Here there is an opportunity to breathe deeply and be one of those who are fighting for the freedom of their people, friends, we will definitely win.
‘P.S.Really hope that my sports career will continue and I will the opportunity to train and perform [and] prepare for the next Olympic Games.’
Maksimava, who is hoping to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, said in a statement: ‘Thinking and thinking for a long time, we decided not to return to Belarus.To our great regret, now there you can lose not only freedom, but also your life.’
Maksimova is the latest Belarusian athlete to vow to not return to their home country.
Tsimanouskaya will step foot on Austrian soil today before boarding another plane heading to Warsaw in Poland on a humanitarian visa after she evaded attempts by the authorities to force her back to her homeland.
The athlete had been expected to fly directly from Tokyo to Warsaw but, amid concerns that Belarusian officials may still make efforts to snatch her, she changed plans at the last minute and took a flight heading to the Austrian capital of Vienna instead.
‘According to our information, she is scheduled to head to Warsaw this evening,’ an Austrian foreign ministry spokesman said.
The Austrian Airlines flight to Vienna departed Japan last morning local time and the rlight is scheduled to land at the capital at 4:05 p.m.local time (1405 GMT).
Tsimanouskaya, masked and wearing blue jeans, a blue blouse and sunglasses, arrived in a police-escorted van at Narita airport – east of Tokyo – at 8.27am.
Belarusian Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, center, arrives at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo on Wednesday
She was seen leaving the Polish embassy in Tokyo in a darkened van with police escort around 7.05am after luggage had been loaded into another van.
The flight from Narita International to Warsaw goes over Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but narrowly avoids Belarusian airspace.
However the late switch to the Vienna flight came after her supporters expressed concerns about her safety even in the air – after Belarus forced a flight from Athens to Lithuania which skirted its borders to divert to Minsk in May using a bogus bomb threat.
On board was journalist Roman Protasevich, a fierce critic of President Alexander Lukashenko, who was hauled off when it landed and thrown into jail.
The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday it had launched a formal probe into Tsimanouskaya’s case and was expecting a report from Belarus.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime of intolerable ‘transnational repression’ in the matter.
A Belarusian sprinter arrived at a Tokyo airport on Wednesday after leaving the Polish embassy, where she had taken refuge in a diplomatic twist at the Tokyo Olympics
Tsimanouskaya, masked and wearing blue jeans, a blue blouse and sunglasses, arrived in a police-escorted van at Narita airport east of the Japanese capital at 8.27am and did not talk to waiting reporters
Tsimanouskaya, 24, had been due to compete in the women’s 200 metre heats on Monday.Pictured at the airport today
She said the Belarusian head coach had turned up at her room on Sunday at the athletes’ village and told her she had to leave after she had criticised team officials.Pictured: At the airport today
A flight from Narita International to Warsaw was scheduled to leave at 10.20am local time.The route it usually takes goes over Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but narrowly avoids Belarusian airspace
The Belarusian sprinter early on Wednesday left the Polish embassy in Tokyo, where she had sought protection after refusing her team’s orders to return home
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya’s refusal to board a flight home, after she said she was taken by her team to the airport against her wishes, caused drama at the Olympics
A darkened van left the compound with police adana escort around 7.05am after luggage had been loaded into another van
A police official confirmed Tsimanouskaya was in the vehicle.She was expected to go to Poland, her supporters have said. Warsaw has offered her a humanitarian visa
Staff members holding luggage are seen outside the embassy of Poland where Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya was
A car beleived to be carrying Belarus athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who claimed her team tried to force her to leave Japan following a row during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, leaves the Polish embassy in Tokyo
Police officers watch as the car carrying Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya leaves the embassy
The police and journalists are seen outside the embassy of Poland early on Wednesday morning
Tsimanouskaya said it was ‘made clear’ she would be ‘punished’ on her return to Belarus – before she escaped by handing herself over to Japanese police.
She said she expected to be kicked off the national team and coaches made ‘thinly disguised hints that more would await me’.
She also called for sanctions against athletics head coach Yuri Moisevich and for a probe into ‘who actually took the decision that I can’t compete’.
A leaked audio team has emerged of Moisevich subjecting Tsimanouskaya to a foul-mouthed tirade after the athlete refused his demand to be a late addition in the 400-metre relay when other runners were found to be ineligible due to ‘negligence’ by Belarus sports officials.
In a secretly recorded meeting, her refusal to obey the order run in the relay – for which she had no experience – after only being told about the plan at the last minute appeared to infuriate Moisevich.
He exploded on the audio released by a Belarus opposition Telegram outlet and said: ‘Did this hit your psyche?What kind of secret was it, damn? A secret to f***ing deceive you?
‘We f***ing asked you, as a human, damn, we wanted you to run without any bad thoughts. Everything was done as a f***ing favour …’
They wanted to draft her in to ‘save this relay for the country’, he said.’Is this so hard to understand?’
She hit back saying she should have been told sooner – not at the last minute – about the plan to make her run following the blunder over the registration of relay runners.
The female sprinter told him on the recording: ‘Don’t you understand it is ridiculous.To put in the relay race people who do not run 400 metres… What nonsense.’
Tsimanouskaya spoke out even as the body of activist Vitaly Shishov, an opponent of dictator Alexander Lukashenko who helped his countrymen flee Belarus, was found hanged in a park in Kiev with friends claiming he was killed by regime thugs.
Shishov’s body was found in a park close to his house on Tuesday, a day after he had gone missing while out for a jog.
Police opened a murder probe and will be investigating the possibility he was killed and his death made to look like a suicide, as friends said there were signs he had been beaten before his death – including a broken nose.
Shishov had reported being followed by ‘strangers’ on his runs shortly before he vanished, friends added, while Ukrainian security forces had warned them Belarus KGB agents were sneaking into the country disguised as refugees.
The timing of Shishov’s death underlines the risks to Tsimanouskaya and her family, with husband Arseni Zhdanevich fleeing Belarus to the Ukrainian capital.
It is not clear whether he made contact with Shishov during his escape.
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news floatRHS" data-version="2" id="mol-a53beea0-f4ad-11eb-b689-89e47a293278" website second Belarus athlete vows not to return home