Belarusian skiers flee the country after a ban on political views


She and her father said the Beijing-Belarus cross-country skier fled the country with her family for fear of retaliation by the authorities after being banned from competing for the family’s political views.

Dariya Doridovic and her family are currently in Poland and want to continue training. Sergei Doridovich, a seven-time Olympic cross-country skier and coach of Dahlia, told Reuters on Tuesday in a video call with her daughter.

Reuters argued last month that 17-year-old Dahlia believed that Sergei and his daughter participated in a street protest that the opposition against Belarus’s president Alexander Lukashenko’s 2020 reelection was fraudulent. Reported that he was forbidden. Lukashenko denied voting fraud.

“Dahlya has been deprived of her right to participate in the competition,” he said. “I don’t think she’s likely to continue her career in Belarus.”

“We could be accused of performing a demonstration and shouting the (opposite) slogan, and then only being sent to jail,” he said.

“Three months ago, even in a nightmare, I couldn’t imagine leaving my country.”

The Doridovich family departs a few days after the Beijing Winter Olympics, where the Belarusian team is being scrutinized after the exile of sprinter Krystsina Zimanoskaya at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Dariya, one of the country’s most promising junior cross-country skiers, last month revoked the FIS code, the personal identification number required by the Belarus ski union to participate in competitions run by the International Ski Federation (FIS). Said.

According to a January 31 letter reviewed by Reuters, the Belarus ski union told Doridovich’s coaching staff that it had revoked her FIS code in December in response to a decision by the Belarusian Cross-Country Skiing Federation. The letter did not say why the decision was made.

In response to a question from Reuters, the FIS said it had not responded to Belarusian skiers since it requested more information last month regarding the deactivation of the FIS code in Dariya Doridovic.

The Belarus Cross-Country Skiing Federation and the Belarus Ski Union did not respond to requests for comment.

Uncertainty ahead

Dariya Doridovic was supposed to graduate from secondary school this year, but it’s unclear how she will study in Poland.

“I was planning to graduate from school in Belarus, but my parents said we were moving,” she said. “Of course, I’m upset. It would have been easier to stay for a few months and graduate from school.”

Doridovich said he was keen to continue skiing, hoping to keep his Olympic dreams alive.

Several elite Belarusian athletes have expressed dissent and imprisoned or kicked off the national team for participating in a protest that broke out in 2020 over Lukashenko’s reelection.

The crackdown on Belarusian athletes, including an attempt to force Zimanuskaya to return home at the Tokyo Olympics, has sparked international criticism.

Last week, the United States announced that it was imposing visa restrictions on several Belarusian citizens, citing the Tsimanouskaya case and another case called extraterritoriality dissident activity.

Another Belarusian cross-country skier, Sviatlana Andryiuk, was also stripped of her FIS code. This prevented her from attending qualifying events that could take part in the Beijing Olympics.

Andrewk, who told Reuters last month that he was accused of being a supporter of the opposition, said her political view was neutral.

Gabrielle T├ętrault-by Farber

Reuters

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