A Belarusian sprinter early on Wednesday left the Polish embassy in Tokyo, the place she had sought safety after refusing her group’s orders to return dwelling.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya’s refusal to board a flight dwelling, after she stated she was taken by her group to the airport in opposition to her needs, brought about drama on the Olympics.
A darkened van left the compound with police escort round 7.05am after baggage had been loaded into one other van.
A police official confirmed Tsimanouskaya was within the automobile.
She was anticipated to go to Poland, her supporters have stated. Warsaw has provided her a humanitarian visa.
The Worldwide Olympic Committee stated on Tuesday it was anticipating a report from the Belarusian group on Tsimanouskaya’s case.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime of insupportable ‘transnational repression’ within the matter.
A Belarusian sprinter early on Wednesday left the Polish embassy in Tokyo, the place she had sought safety after refusing her group’s orders to return dwelling
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya’s refusal to board a flight dwelling, after she stated she was taken by her group to the airport in opposition to her needs, brought about drama on the Olympics
A darkened van left the compound with police escort round 7.05am after baggage had been loaded into one other van
A police official confirmed Tsimanouskaya was within the automobile. She was anticipated to go to Poland, her supporters have stated. Warsaw has provided her a humanitarian visa
Workers members holding baggage are seen outdoors the embassy of Poland the place Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya was
A automobile beleived to be carrying Belarus athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who claimed her group tried to power her to depart Japan following a row throughout the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Video games, leaves the Polish embassy in Tokyo
Law enforcement officials watch because the automobile carrying Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya leaves the embassy
The police and journalists are seen outdoors the embassy of Poland early on Wednesday morning
Tsimanouskaya stated it was ‘made clear’ she can be ‘punished’ on her return to Belarus – earlier than she escaped by handing herself over to Japanese police.
She stated she anticipated to be kicked off the nationwide group and coaches made ‘thinly disguised hints that extra would await me’.
She additionally known as for sanctions in opposition to athletics head coach Yuri Moisevich and for a probe into ‘who really took the choice that I can not compete’.
Tsimanouskaya spoke out even because the physique of activist Vitaly Shishov, an opponent of dictator Alexander Lukashenko who helped his countrymen flee Belarus, was discovered hanged in a park in Kiev with associates claiming he was killed by regime thugs.
Shishov’s physique was present in a park near his home on Tuesday, a day after he had gone lacking whereas out for a jog.
Police opened a homicide probe and will likely be investigating the chance he was killed and his dying made to appear like a suicide, as associates stated there have been indicators he had been overwhelmed earlier than his dying – together with a damaged nostril.
Shishov had reported being adopted by ‘strangers’ on his runs shortly earlier than he vanished, associates added, whereas Ukrainian safety forces had warned them Belarus KGB brokers have been sneaking into the nation disguised as refugees.
The timing of Shishov’s dying underlines the dangers to Tsimanouskaya and her household, with husband Arseni Zhdanevich fleeing Belarus to the Ukrainian capital.
It isn’t clear whether or not he made contact with Shishov throughout his escape.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, the Belarus sprinter who was nearly kidnapped from the Tokyo Olympics by her personal trainers, spoke from the Polish embassy the place she was holed up
She hit out even because the physique of Vitaly Shishov, an activist against Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, was present in Ukraine a day after he went lacking
Police in Kiev stated Shishov’s physique was discovered hanged in woods close to his dwelling, however that they’ve opened a homicide probe on suspicion that the ‘suicide’ was staged by his killers
Police stand guard close to the place Shishov’s physique was discovered as associates say they consider he was killed by Belarusian KGB brokers
Viktor Lukashenko: Dictator’s son who crushed protests and now leads Olympic committee
The eldest son of Belarus dictator Alexander, 45-year-old Viktor Lukashenko is made in his father’s picture – each when it comes to appears to be like and character.
Raised to guide the nation, he attended the Belarusian State College the place he studied worldwide relations earlier than serving within the nation’s border guards as a part of his obligatory navy service – the identical part of the navy his father served in.
He went on to work within the international ministry and for Agat, a navy know-how firm, earlier than changing into nationwide safety adviser to his father in 2005.
Throughout protests that adopted the 2010 election in Belarus, which Lukashenko is broadly thought to have rigged, Viktor was concerned in repressing dissent.
He was subsequently sanctioned by the EU, which accused him of enjoying ‘a key position within the repressive measures applied in opposition to the democratic opposition and civil society… Specifically within the crackdown of the demonstration on 19 December.’
On that event, riot police had brutally overwhelmed hundreds of protesters and arrested lots of as they tried to storm the presidential palace in frustration on the election outcome.
Vladimir Neklyaev, an opposition chief, was overwhelmed unconscious in a separate incident earlier than being carried away to jail wrapped in a carpet.
Viktor was elected as head of Belarus’s Olympic Committee – changing his father – in February this 12 months, prompting sanctions from the worldwide physique.
The Worldwide Olympic Committee stated in March that it refused to recognise the election and would ban each Alexander and Viktor Lukashenko from attending the Tokyo Video games for ‘failing to guard athletes from political discrimination’ following anti-regime protests by which many sportsmen took half.
Dmitry Baskov, who was elected board member of the Belarus committee, was additionally sanctioned. He’s suspected of ordering or taking part within the beating of artist Raman Bandarenka, who later died in hospital.
Olympic officers have additionally contacted Tsimanouskaya’s mom, who continues to be in Belarus, to inform her that her daughter has been recruited by international spies and have to be introduced dwelling.
It’s thought her father and grandmother additionally reside within the nation, although it’s unclear if they’ve additionally been approached.
Tsimanouskaya added she hopes to proceed her sporting profession as soon as she arrives in Poland, having hoped to compete at two extra Olympics, however in the meanwhile her security is her precedence.
Requested what made her concern she can be at risk at dwelling, Tsimanouskaya stated the important thing phrase was that ‘we did not make the choice so that you can go dwelling, it was determined by different individuals, and we have been merely ordered to make it occur’.
She added she was nervous about her dad and mom, who stay in Belarus. Her husband, Arseni Zdanevich, left the nation and is in Ukraine.
Talking to German media, Tsimanouskaya stated she by no means anticipated the scandal to grow to be as massive because it has – insisting that she is just not concerned in politics and didn’t intend her criticism of group coaches to be political.
Earlier than his dying, Shishov ran Belarusian Home – an organisation that helped his fellow countrymen escape Lukashenko’s more and more brutal regime.
The group supplied recommendation on lodging, jobs and authorized points, in response to its web site.
Vyasna human rights organisation stated that ‘unknown individuals had been watching him throughout his jogging.
‘Suspicious individuals additionally approached him and his girlfriend, attempting to speak’.
Pal and colleague Yury Shuchko added that Shishov ‘knew he was being hunted’ after Ukrainian safety forces warned them that Belarusian particular brokers have been sneaking into the nation posing as refugees.
I believe it was completed by the KGB or a particular service that works for Lukashenko’s regime’, he stated.
‘We talked final week – he had a premonition…
‘I hope this coward and really meaningless homicide will likely be totally investigated.
‘We are going to proceed our work, we’ll proceed defending the Belarusians in Ukraine as we did earlier than.’
Individually, a spokesman for Belarusian Home stated there’s ‘little doubt’ Shishov died in an ‘operation’ carried out by the Belarus secret police.
Brokers acted to ‘get rid of a Belarus man who was really harmful for the regime,’ the spokesman stated, including: ‘Vitali was below surveillance.
‘The information have been notified to the police.
‘We have been additionally repeatedly warned by each native sources and our individuals within the Republic of Belarus about every kind of provocations, together with kidnapping and liquidation.
‘Vitaly handled these warnings stoically and with humour.’
Police have launched an enchantment for info from associates on ‘potential threats’ in opposition to him, and nicely as particulars on his psychological state.
Lukashenko’s enemies have been discovered lifeless by hanging in suspicious circumstances beforehand.
In 2010, Oleg Byabenin, a Belarusian journalist and founding father of Constitution’97 human rights group, was discovered hanged at a rustic home.
His colleagues disputed the official discovering of suicide. Final 12 months activist Nikita Krivtsov, 28, was discovered hanged in a Minsk park.
Tsimanouskaya grew to become a goal of the regime when she uploaded a put up to Instagram final week criticising her trainers for coming into her into the 4x400m relay with out her information and with out her coaching for the occasion.
She was because of compete within the 200m dash on Monday, however was barred from participating within the occasion.
Tsimanouskaya appealed that call to the Court docket of Arbitration for Sport however was turned down.
She was subsequent seen at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Sunday the place she handed herself over to police, claiming she was being taken in another country in opposition to her will and that she feared for her security if she returned dwelling.
The Worldwide Olympic Committee has since launched an investigation into the claims.
Belarusian opposition chief Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya arrives at Downing Road on Tuesday to fulfill with Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson pledged the UK’s assist for democratic actions in Belarus as he met with Ms Tsikhanouskaya inside Downing Road
Lukashenko, referred to as Europe’s final dictator, has cracked down on dissent since claiming victory in elections final 12 months which are broadly thought of to have been rigged – jailing critics who’ve reported being overwhelmed and electrocuted by police behind bars. Not less than 10 individuals have died in consequence, opposition activist say.
Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled opposition chief who’s believed to have overwhelmed Lukashenko in that election, is because of meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday to debate the deteriorating state of affairs in Belarus.
Talking to BBC Radio 4, she stated: ‘I need the British Authorities to maintain Belarus on the agenda, bearing in mind all of the violence that is happening contained in the nation and… the risk that the regime now’s for the worldwide neighborhood.’
Mr Johnson later advised her that he was ‘on her aspect’ and helps efforts to ascertain democracy in Belarus.
Lukashenko targets athletes after they led protests in opposition to him
Sport is rarely removed from politics within the ex-Soviet nation dominated by Lukashenko, the long-serving authoritarian chief who sparked mass protests final 12 months for claiming to have gained a sixth presidential time period.
Belarusian safety forces unleashed a crackdown in opposition to the protests, detaining hundreds of demonstrators and pushing opposition leaders into exile.
Shortly earlier than the Tokyo Video games, Lukashenko warned sports activities officers and athletes that he anticipated leads to Tokyo.
‘Give it some thought earlier than going,’ he stated. ‘If you happen to come again with nothing, it is higher for you to not come again in any respect.’
Tsimanouskaya was one in every of greater than 2000 Belarusian sports activities figures who signed an open letter final 12 months calling for brand new elections and for all political prisoners to be freed following the mass protests.
Some athletes have been additionally briefly detained within the protests, together with a kickboxing champion and an Olympic medalist.
In August final 12 months, Tsimanouskaya had known as for an finish to repression.
‘I’m in opposition to any sort of repression, I’m for peace, for honesty, for freedom of speech,’ she stated in a put up on Instagram beneath a photograph of her holding the Belarusian flag.
Apart from that put up, Tsimanouskaya’s Instagram is dominated by posts about her coaching periods and diet.
Belarus’s exiled opposition chief Svetlana Tikhanovskaya accused the Lukashenko regime of attempting to ‘kidnap’ Tsimanouskaya.
‘Tsimanouskaya is proof that any Belarusian athlete despatched to the Olympics can grow to be a hostage if he finds the braveness to talk,’ she stated on messaging app Telegram.
Belarusian state tv scorned the runner, with one presenter calling her ‘an individual that has nothing to do with the Olympic motion’.
The nation’s sports activities and political officers have recommended that the incident was pre-planned and will have been orchestrated from outdoors.
‘It’s potential that (outdoors affect) was working with the woman,’ stated political commentator Alexander Shpakovsky within the official newspaper of Belarus’s presidential administration, Sovetskaya Belorussiya, suggesting the nation’s neighbours have been concerned.
Born in 1996 in jap Belarus, Tsimanouskaya competed within the 200m on the world championships in Doha in 2019, however was knocked out within the heats after ending fourth in her race in a time of 23.22 seconds.
In the meantime state-owned media in Belarus unleashed a full-scale character assassination of their athlete on Tuesday – branding her a ‘monster’, and ‘scum’ with an ‘ego inflated to unbelievable sizes’.
She was snared by a ‘sudden James Bond-like’ sting operation from the West, claimed an outlet near dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
The 24-year-old sprinter was branded a ‘loopy girl’ and a ‘no person’ in an official media hatchet job that acknowledged: ‘The swamp chomped, spoiling the pure Olympic ambiance with the stench of Krystsina Tsimanouskaya’s feverish delirium.’
The report was headlined: ‘Her escape from Belarus is the quickest dash in Krystsina Tsimanouskaya’s profession’.
The report in Belarus As we speak – also called Soviet Belarus – stated the runner ‘has by no means gained a critical race – and there was no purpose to consider that this could occur within the close to or long run’.
She had been pampered by the state and acquired used to a ‘good life’ as a member of the nation’s sporting elite.
‘Her ego inflated to unbelievable sizes and self-conceit, shaped by a scarcity of intelligence (and) upbringing plus the extreme consideration of the state…lastly made her a monster.’
Tsimanouskaya ‘is just not a white and fluffy offended fairy, however fairly a Frankenstein.
‘A horrible egocentric monster who, for his personal profit and private pursuits, is able to promote all the pieces and everybody’.
She was responsible of ‘rudeness and impudence’ in refusing to participate in a relay on the Olympics then refusing to fly dwelling when ordered to take action.
She ‘fortunately and delightedly stabbed her current teammates and residential nation with a knife within the again’.
‘For Tsimanouskaya’s picture to be full she lacks solely a can of beer in her fingers and a cigarette in her enamel.’
One other article in the identical outlet branded her ‘scum’, stating: ‘The extra hysterical, disgusting, scandalous a girl is – like Krystsina T. – the extra disgustingly she behaves…
‘Not each 100-metre feminine runner is able to throwing such a fully rubbish scandal out of the blue.’
She had the ‘undoubted assist and assist’ of the exiled political opposition to Lukashenko, alleged the report.
Professional-Lukashenko politician Kalina Kaputskaya was quoted by state information company BELTA as saying: ‘It’s a massive overstatement to name Krystsina Tsimanouskaya a real athlete within the mild of the current occasions on the Olympics in Tokyo.
‘Sadly, we noticed an individual ignoring company ethics, clearly having some private dissatisfaction, who spent an excessive amount of effort on being sad.’
It got here after an audio recording was leaked on Monday purporting to seize the second Tsimanouskaya was advised she can be flying dwelling from Tokyo after ‘an order was acquired’ from on-high.
The audio, launched by Belarus Telegram channel ‘Nick and Mike’ which is hostile to Lukashenko, allegedly paperwork Tsimanouskaya arguing with two males recognized as head coach Moisevich and Artur Shumak, deputy director of the nation’s athletics coaching academy.
Tsimanouskaya sought police assist at Haneda airport in Tokyo on Sunday, claiming she was being kidnapped earlier than officers to her to a ‘safe’ location the place she remained in a single day
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, is pictured coming into the Polish embassy in Tokyo the place she was holed up after Belarus Olympic officers tried to kidnap her
Ms Tsimanouskaya was born and raised in Belarus, however will now fly to Poland on August 4 to attempt to begin a brand new life after criticism of her Olympic coaches led to her being threatened. In the meantime husband Arseni Zhdanevich has fled to Ukraine, saying he hopes to hitch his spouse in Warsaw ‘within the close to future’
On the tape, the person believed to be Shumak tells her that ‘an order has been acquired’ for her to go dwelling, saying the plan is to play it off in public as a sports activities damage however that in actuality it’s due to ‘accusations and feedback that you just made’.
A person believed to be Moisevich then tells her bluntly to ‘shut up’ and ‘obey’, including that ‘nothing good will occur’ if she decides to remain in Tokyo.
However Tsimanouskaya pushes again, prompting Shumak to check her to a fly caught in an online.
‘When a fly will get into an online, the extra it strikes, the extra it will get entangled. That is how life works,’ he says. ‘We do silly issues, you’ve got completed one thing silly. I hope you perceive that.’
Moisevich then provides: ‘If (you) don’t obey, then we have now no escape routes. You understand, if there’s gangrene, they reduce off half of the leg, in any other case they can’t save the entire organism.
‘Sure, sorry for the leg. In any other case, keep along with your leg and die.’
When Tsimanouskaya accuses him of ‘overlaying your personal a**’ by ordering her to go dwelling, he encourages her to be ‘good’ and never resist. ‘Consider me, I am not saving my very own a**,’ he provides.
It isn’t clear how the audio was recorded or leaked, although it seems it was made earlier than Tsimanouskaya was taken to the airport.
The Belarus Sport Solidarity Fund, an organsation that helpd persucted athletes throughout the nation, stated Tsimanouskaya had additionally been focused by supporters of the Belarusian authorities.
‘The marketing campaign was fairly critical and that was a transparent sign that her life can be at risk in Belarus,’ Alexander Opeikin, a spokesman for the BSSF, advised The Related Press in an interview.
‘We appealed to plenty of nations for assist,’ stated Herasimenia, a three-time Olympic medallist. ‘However the first that reacted was the Polish consulate. We’re prepared to simply accept their assist.’
Tsimanouskaya summoned Japanese police at Haneda Airport and didn’t board a flight departing for Istanbul. Overseas ministry officers arrived later on the airport, Opeikin stated.
In an announcement on Sunday, the Belarusian Olympic Committee stated that nationwide coaches had determined to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Tokyo Video games on docs’ recommendation about her ’emotional, psychological state’.
She refuted this evaluation, telling Tribuna she was by no means visited by a physician.
‘No docs got here to me, nobody examined me. I’ve an excellent psychological state, regardless that such a state of affairs has occurred. I keep it up usually, I’ve no well being issues, no accidents, no psychological points. I used to be able to run,’ Tsimanouskaya stated.
The IOC had been in dispute with the Belarus Nationwide Olympic Committee forward of the Tokyo Video games.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who was because of compete within the ladies’s 200 meters on Monday, advised Reuters she didn’t plan to return to her nation and that she had sought the safety of Japanese police at Tokyo’s Haneda airport so she wouldn’t must board the flight
Tsimanouskaya (left) competes within the ladies’s 100m heats on the 2020 Tokyo Video games on Saturday. She was because of run within the 200m qualifiers on Monday
The Belarus Nationwide Olympic Committee has been led for greater than 25 years by Lukashenko and his son, Viktor.
Each Lukashenkos are banned from the Tokyo Olympics by the IOC, which investigated complaints from athletes that they confronted reprisals and intimidation in fallout from protests since final August after the nation’s disputed presidential election.
The suspected tried kidnapping comes months after Western nations condemned the federal government of Kremlin-backed strongman Lukashenko after it scrambled a Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jet to hijack a business passenger airplane so it might arrest a dissident journalist.
Tsimanouskaya competed for Belarus on the primary day of observe occasions on Friday on the Nationwide Stadium in Tokyo. She positioned fourth in her first-round warmth within the 100 meters, timing 11.47 seconds, and didn’t advance.
She filmed a video that was revealed on Telegram earlier on Sunday by the BSSF, by which she requested the IOC to become involved in her case.
She stated: ‘I’m asking the Worldwide Olympic Committee for assist. There’s stress in opposition to me and they’re attempting to get me in another country with out my permission. So, I’m asking the IOC to become involved on this.’
Tsimanouskaya advised Reuters from the airport: ‘A few of our women didn’t fly right here to compete within the 4x400m relay as a result of they did not have sufficient doping assessments. And the coach added me to the relay with out my information. I spoke about this publicly. The top coach came visiting to me and stated there had been an order from above to take away me.
Dissident journalists stated Belarusian state media launched a marketing campaign in opposition to Tsimanouskaya after she criticised Belarus nationwide group’s administration on Friday.
Minsk-based journalist Hanna Liubakova posted a video which appeared to point out the athlete on the airport, tweeting: ‘Tsimanouskaya was accompanied to the airport by two members of the Belarusian sports activities delegation. She is now with the police and volunteers. When requested if she was afraid to fly to #Belarus, Tsimanouskaya answered ‘sure’.’
The sprinter stated that she had reached out to members of the Belarusian diaspora in Japan to retrieve her on the airport, including: ‘I feel I’m protected. I’m with the police.’
She later stated that members of the diaspora had come to face outdoors the airport to supply their assist.
The incident is paying homage to the kidnapping of Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega in Minsk after Lukashenko scrambled a Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jet to escort a business passenger airplane again to Belarus.
Ryanair flight FR4978 had been flying from Athens in Greece to Vilnius in Lithuania in Could when it was pressured to make an emergency touchdown in Minsk amid pretend experiences of an IED on board.
Protasevich was then seen on June 4 in a tearful interview aired on state media by which he confessed to calling for protests final 12 months and praised Lukashenko.
Jailed journalist Roman Protasevich final appeared at a press convention in Minsk in June, telling reporters he felt ‘great’
Vladimir Putin (left) was just about the one supporter of Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko (left) over the hijacking of a Ryanair passenger airplane earlier this month which was escorted to Minsk by a fighter jet and compelled to land so authorities might arrest a dissident journalist
Belarus was rocked by strikes and weekly road protests after authorities introduced that Lukashenko, who has dominated in authoritarian trend since 1994, had secured re-election on August 9, 2020 with 80 per cent of votes
The incident prompted the European Union to ban Belarusian airways, urge EU airways to not cross into Belarusian airspace and threaten robust financial sanctions on Lukashenko’s authorities.
The British Authorities instructed all UK planes to stop flying over Belarus. Some nations have additionally imposed sanctions in opposition to Belarusian officers over a crackdown on demonstrators and a presidential election final 12 months that the opposition stated was rigged.
Lukashenko has saved a decent grip on Belarus, a former Soviet state, since 1994. Confronted with mass road protests final 12 months over the elections, he ordered a violent crackdown on protesters. Lukashenko denies the allegations of vote-rigging.
Unusually in a rustic the place elite athletes typically depend on authorities funding, some outstanding Belarusian athletes joined the protests.
A number of have been jailed, together with Olympic basketball participant Yelena Leuchanka and decathlete Andrei Krauchanka.
Others misplaced their state employment or have been kicked off nationwide groups for supporting the opposition.
In the course of the Chilly Battle, scores of sports activities individuals and cultural figures defected from the Soviet Union and its satellite tv for pc states throughout abroad competitions or excursions. However the freedom of journey that got here with the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union noticed the necessity for such dramatic acts dwindle.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin was just about the one world chief to defend Lukashenko over the hijacking. Russia promised Belarus a £1.06billion mortgage final 12 months as a part of Moscow’s efforts to stabilise its neighbour and longstanding ally. Minsk acquired a primary instalment of £352million in October.
Following talks in Sochi, Russia stated it’ll transfer forward with a second £352million mortgage to Belarus.
In Could, the top of NATO linked the Kremlin to the hijack of the Ryanair jet by Belarus, having beforehand described the incident as a ‘state-sponsored hijacking’.
Europe’s final dictator: Alexander Lukashenko, who has dominated Belarus with an iron fist since 1994
Born in 1954 within the village of Kopys, in what was then the USSR, Alexander Lukashenko was the son of an unknown father – thought by some to by a Roma gypsy – and a labourer mom, Ekaterina Lukashenko.
He studied in Belarus and graduated from the Mogilyov Instructing Institute in 1975, then went on to check on the Belarusian Agricultural Academy within the Nineteen Eighties.
He did a quick stint within the Belarusian border guards and in addition served within the Soviet Military, changing into concerned in politics as a instructor throughout the navy and because the chief of a Leninist organisation within the metropolis of Mogilev.
After leaving the navy he joined the ranks of the Communist Celebration and was appointed chief of a state farm, earlier than being elected to the Supreme Council of Belarus in 1990.
Lukashenko made his title as an anti-corruption campaigner and emerged as a robust political ally of Moscow – the one deputy to oppose the December 1991 settlement that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
In 1994 he appealed to Russia to type a brand new union of Slavic states, shortly earlier than his election as President of Belarus – promising stronger ties between the 2 nations.
Two years later, he persuaded voters to approve a brand new structure permitting him to increase his time period in workplace, rule by decree, and to nominate a majority of parliament.
Lukashenko used these powers to increase his time period in 1999, and gained an election in 2001 and one other in 2006 – amid allegations of vote-rigging that resulted EU leaders banning him from their nations.
Election victories – accompanied by extra allegations of fixing – adopted once more in 2010 and 2015.
Lukashenko’s reputation declined quickly between 2015 and 2020, spurred on by his more and more erratic behaviour coupled with mismanagement of the Covid disaster – throughout which he claimed vodka and saunas might forestall the illness.
Amid a wave of dissent, one other election was held in 2020 which returned an official victory for Lukashenko with 80 per cent of the vote – although few consider this to be correct.
His important opponent – Sergei Tikhanovsky – was arrested within the run-up to the poll, leaving spouse Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to run in his stead. She subsequently fled the nation to Lithuania after being focused by police.
Anger on the outcome sparked the most important wave of protests in Belarus since its Soviet days, with mass demonstrations, strikes and requires a change of management.
Lukashenko responded by sending riot police on to the streets to spherical up dissenters, with an estimated 25,000 arrested by November. Ten have so-far died amid the crackdown.
Lukashenko has additionally cracked down on journalists, raiding the workplaces of the nation’s largest newspaper Tut.by together with the house of its editor on fees of ‘tax evasion’.
In Could he staged his most-daring transfer but, diverting a Ryanair jet carrying dissident reporter Roman Protasevich to Lithuania earlier than arresting him.
Mr Protasevich’s allies, together with Ms Tsikhanouskaya, say they now concern for his life.