President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus attributes Belarusian sprinter defection at the Olympic Games to "manipulation" by outside forces.
Belarus President, Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday a Belarusian sprinter defected at the Olympic Games only because she had been “manipulated” by outside forces. At an hours-long news conference on the anniversary of an election which opponents said was rigged so that he could win, Lukashenko denied being a dictator and said he had defended Belarus against opponents plotting a coup. As he spoke in his Presidential palace in Minsk, Britain, Canada, and the United States announced coordinated sanctions targeting the Belarusian economy and its financial sector, including exports of oil products and potash, which is used in fertilizers and is Belarus’ main foreign currency earner.
Lukashenko said Britain would “choke” on its measures and he was ready for talks with the West instead of a sanctions war. Lukashenko said he had won the presidential election fairly on Aug. 9, 2020, and that some people had been “preparing for a fair election, while others were calling … for a coup d’état.”
Tens of thousands of people joined street protests in 2020 – Lukashenko’s biggest challenge since he became president in 1994. He responded with a crackdown in which many opponents have been arrested or gone into exile.
Dismissing accusations that he is a dictator, he said: “In order to dictate – I am a completely sane person – you need to have the appropriate resources. I have never dictated anything to anyone and I am not going to.” Belarus has again been in the international spotlight since sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya fled to Warsaw last week following a dispute with her coaches in which she said an order came from “high up” to send her home from Tokyo.