Belarus is exporting chaos to the rest of Europe

The plights of an activist in Ukraine and an athlete in Japan show there is no safe place to be a dissenting Belarusian | Europe

8/4/2021 11:51:00 AM

Vitaly Shishov, the head of an NGO based in Ukraine that offers housing and legal help to exiles, went missing. The following morning he was found hanging from a tree in a nearby forest

The plights of an activist in Ukraine and an athlete in Japan show there is no safe place to be a dissenting Belarusian | Europe

KRYSTINA TIMANOVSKAYA is not your typical dissident. A track-and-field Olympian representing Belarus in Tokyo, she has never publicly criticised the government nor its despotic president, Alexander Lukashenko. Her crime was to complain on social media that her coaches registered her for the 4x400-metre relay without telling her. They took her to Tokyo airport against her will for a flight home. There she sought protection from Japanese police; the next day, August 2nd, Poland granted asylum to her and her family. She claims the call to send her home came not from the sports ministry but “a higher level”.

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Ms Timanovskaya joins an expanding collection of Belarusians in Europe living beyond the bailiwick of a regime whose old sobriquet, “Europe’s last dictatorship”, does not adequately capture its ever-worsening gangsterism. But asylum is not the guarantee of protection from Mr Lukashenko’s clutches that refugees would like it to be. An event in Ukraine on the day Ms Timanovskaya received her visa underlined just how precarious it can be.

Vitaly Shishov, the head of an NGO based in Ukraine that offers housing and legal help to exiles, went missing after leaving home for a morning jog on the outskirts of Kyiv. The following morning he was found hanging from a tree in a nearby forest. His friends claim that his face was bruised and his nose was broken. Ukrainian police opened an investigation, leaving open the possibility that his death might be a “murder masked as a suicide”. (The picture shows activists in Kyiv, holding Mr Shisov’s photo.) headtopics.com

Mr Shishov’s NGO accused the Belarusian secret service of killing him. There is no proof of that yet. But Mr Shishov was worried. He told his friends he was being followed. He had recently created a channel on Telegram, a social-media app, aiming to unmask scheming in Ukraine by the Belarusian KGB. “The regime is becoming more and more terroristic,” he told readers in a message on June 4th. “Even while abroad, you need to keep your ears open.” Mr Shishov died in “an ideal place for this kind of crime”, with no cameras nearby and just a two-hour drive from Ukraine’s Belarusian border, says a friend who formed part of a search party.

Belarus has form when it comes to extraterritorial gangsterism. In May it concocted a bomb threat and sent warplanes to ground a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, two EU capitals, as it passed over Belarusian airspace. Roman Protasevich, an exiled dissident on board, was pried off the plane with his girlfriend and arrested.

Mr Shishov’s death comes amid continuing shockwaves following last year’s rigged presidential election, which spurred an unprecedented outburst of protest that the thin-skinned Mr Lukashenko has been avenging ever since. Torture of detainees has been commonplace.

On July 21st police raided the offices of 14 NGOs and arrested their members.Anything short of devout loyalty to all state institutions risks severe punishment, as Ms Timanovskaya’s case shows (and it probably did not help that the Belarusian Olympic Committee, the target of her ire, is run by Mr Lukashenko’s son). Each new wave of repression prompts more Belarusians to flee. headtopics.com

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A tottering dictatorship that borders three EU countries and fragile Ukraine is in a superb position to export chaos. Belarus also stands accused of sending Iraqi migrants across its northern border to Lithuania, possibly as punishment for providing a base in exile for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the opposition leader and probable winner of the 2020 election.

The 2,600 Iraqi migrants that Lithuanian authorities nabbed along the border last month is a tiny figure, but mighty as a share of population: akin to 62,000 migrants streaming into Britain. Iraqi Airways, a national carrier, recently announced plans to double the number of flights from Baghdad to Minsk, and on August 2nd opened direct flights there from three smaller cities. On August 3rd Lithuania’s interior ministry published footage of what it claims is a Belarusian border-patrol car giving migrants directions to the border.

Read more: The Economist »

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SecBlinken you might offer help to the This Olympian. 👇🏽 The Lithuanian population close to the Belarus border are desperate at the floods of Belarusian refugees crossing the border with no support from neither the Vilnius Government nor Brussels! same like Putin's Russia. Putin murders oppositionists around the world. Only that the West does not want to fight Putin, but only to do business. Hypocrisy.

😂😂😂 Belarus is exporting chaos to Europe? How and your Saint USA who exported millions of refugees to Europe? Dare a dog speak up against it's master? Leaving – AERØHEAD (No Copyright Music) Why is there still a safe place for Lukashenko ? same like Putin's Russia. Putin murders oppositionists around the world. Only that the West does not want to fight Putin, but only to do business. Hypocrisy.

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Europe would be honoured to give asylum to Belarus athlete - French ministerIt would be an honour if Europe were to grant political asylum to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on Monday. OlivierMannoni Un peu mon neveu ! Bienvenue dans la dictature « soft » ! The French minister did nothing and only talks about it. Meanwhile the Polish government has already issued her visa. But Europe still rejects refugees from the countries they’ve destroyed

Belarus runner flies to Europe after feud with team managersMOSCOW (AP) — A Belarusian sprinter left Tokyo en route to Europe on Wednesday after resisting an attempt by her Olympic team's officials to send her home to Belarus, where the athlete said she could be in danger from authorities who have relentlessly cracked down on dissent. When will be the day that the West Stop its hate of the World? Global Community is a diverse mosaïque you should embrace it rather than perpertuate your hate and hateful speech. Tired of haters 🐊🐊🐊 hope she is flying through Dubai and not over Russia, that would be quite stupid, personally I would play it safe and do transfer through US bubye now 👎😂

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Europe would be honoured to give asylum to Belarus athlete - French ministerIt would be an honour if Europe were to grant political asylum to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on Monday. OlivierMannoni Un peu mon neveu ! Bienvenue dans la dictature « soft » ! The French minister did nothing and only talks about it. Meanwhile the Polish government has already issued her visa. But Europe still rejects refugees from the countries they’ve destroyed