Poland issued a humanitarian visa for Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya on Monday and as Deputy PM Marcin Przydacz told Sky News on Tuesday: “For us it was most important to prevent the deportation of Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to Belarus against her will,” adding that “where she would like to continue her sports career is to her discretion. She is always very welcome in Poland.”
The FM said that her coach was based in Austria, which is also where Tsimanouskaya has been carrying out her training sessions.
“She is always very welcome in Poland. We have offered her the possibility of continuing her career in Poland… Tsimanouskaya enjoys the possibility of safe arrival to Poland,” Mr Przydacz said, adding that thousands of Belarusians lived in Poland many of whom left Belarus due to political reasons.
The official stressed that Polish authorities have been doing all in their might to shelter them from the reach of Belarusian secret services. Mr Przydacz noted, however, that no EU or NATO state was a perfectly safe place as the murder case of Alexander Litvinenko and the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
The Deputy FM recalled that ever since the start of the crisis resulting from the rigged Belarusian presidential elections of August 2020, Poland has issued over 120,000 visas for Belarusians due to political reasons. The reason cited by Belarusians during the visa application process was the sense of insecurity they experienced in their country. Mr Przydacz said that each week and month more Belarusians were arriving in Poland.
“All are very welcome, we are neighbours, we share a common history and hope that the crisis in Belarus would end, that Alexander Lukashenko and other members of the Minsk authorities would enter dialogue with the opposition, and a way for stepping out of the crisis and commence democratisation would be found,” Mr Przydacz said and added: “We are ready to help, the EU is ready to help, albeit everything depends on the Belarusian authorities and, obviously, Moscow, as it is Moscow which actively supports Lukashenko.”
The official recalled that the EU imposed sanctions on Lukashenko, other members of the regime responsible for the rigging of the elections, and enterprises. As Mr Przydacz argued, should these actions bring about no positive changes, this line should be pursued.
“We should also support civil society and free media,” stressed the Deputy FM, adding that “this is exactly what we do by financing independent media and thousands of civil society activists residing in Poland. My expectation would be to encourage all western democracies to be a little more active [in this field].”
Several days ago, sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya criticised her coaches for their negligence that led to three Belarusian sprinters not being allowed to enter the Olympics, and for their decision to put her in the 4x400m relay despite never taking part in this type of run before. Ms Tsimanouskaya was due to run in the Olympic 100-metre and 200-metre races.
The Russian Echo Moscow radio announced on Monday that Tsimanouskaya’s husband had already left Belarus for Kyiv.
On Monday afternoon, the EU praised Poland’s decision to grant Ms Tsimanouskaya a visa. “We express our full solidarity to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and commend the (EU) member states that offered her support,” EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.
The visa that Ms Tsimanouskaya received from the Polish embassy in Tokyo grants her political asylum in Poland.