Less than a week after seeking asylum in Poland after breaking away from her team at the Tokyo Olympics, Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya says she plans to auction off a medal from an event in 2019 to help athletes suffering oppression back home.
Timanovskaya wrote on Instagram that many athletes have suffered in Belarus under the rule of Alexander Lukashenko, considered by many to be Europe's last dictator.
She made the comments on the anniversary of an election that returned Lukashenko to power, although the results were heavily disputed and prompted months of unrest.
The athlete broke away from her team last week after was allegedly kidnapped by the Belarusian authorities in Tokyo in an attempt to force her to fly back to Belarus from the Olympic Games following comments she had made on social media criticizing the Belarusian coaches.
Olympic and Japanese officials helped her and she flew to Poland, where she and her husband are now seeking asylum.
Two Belarusian coaches were asked to leave Tokyo in the wake of the incident. A formal probe has been started.
A silver medal
The medal Timanovskaya plans to auction is a silver medal she won at the European Games in Belarus in 2019.
Lukashenko said on Monday that he believes Timanovskaya is being manipulated by the West. "She wouldn't have done this if she hadn't been steered."