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Jelena Lefchanka looks back on prison time for Belarusian protest

Former Belarusian basketball star Arena Lefchanka has had a difficult time in recent months.

She spent 15 days in prison in October after peacefully protesting President Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed reelection, and was infected with the coronavirus earlier this month while in Greece.

“I couldn’t quietly ignore it or make it look like nothing was happening in my country,” Lefchanka said in an interview with Zoom. “I was watching how the presidential election would take place without international observers, so I used my voice to help people in my country and stand with them.

“Many people have been arrested in the last few months. Most of them have been put in jail for participating in demonstrations,” she said.

Lef Chanka is aware of all the support he has received from WNBA players and their unions and has stood up for social justice and said what they did this summer influenced her.

“It inspired me and many of my fellow athletes,” said Leuchanka, who played for the WNBA for four seasons. “The United States is a free country. We are currently dealing with a dictatorship that can cause problems with posting to Instagram. It definitely influenced me and joined the WNBA. The United States told me, He had a different way of thinking and taught me that there is no problem with how people are treated. “

Lefchanka was detained at Minsk Airport in late September as he was scheduled to travel to Greece for treatment and training abroad.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to go through check-in. I was packing the bag in plastic and there was a tap on my back. I saw two cops,” she said. “They greeted me and said I had to arrest me for participating in the protest.”

From there, the 37-year-old Center, who helped the Belarusian basketball team participate in the Olympics twice, was sentenced to a brief hearing and imprisoned.

Almost daily protests have taken place since August 9, when Lukashenko was declared the winner of the presidential election with 80% of the votes. The European Union and the United States have introduced sanctions on top Belarusian executives who have been accused of voting neither free nor fair, fraudulently voting and designing post-election crackdowns.

During the first days of the protest, Belarusian authorities brutally cracked down on protesters, with police detaining thousands, breaking scores.

Lukashenko, who has run the former Soviet nation with an iron fist since 1994, accused the West of fueling protests and relied on support from his main sponsor and ally Russia to delve into it.

His main challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, is said to have received only 10% of the votes. Tsikhanouskaya and her supporters refused to accept the results of the vote, saying it was fraudulent, and some voting workers upheld the claim.

Lefchanka said the protest she had made was peaceful. Protesters cleaned up themselves, hung garbage bags on trees, and took off their shoes when they went up to the bench.

“We just wanted to hear,” said Lefchanka, who played a college ball at West Virginia University.

She wasn’t completely surprised when she was arrested, but was shocked by her experience in prison.

“I thought it wouldn’t be a resort because it’s a prison. The conditions were terrible. The first night there was a mattress and water and the toilet was running. But the next day everything started to change.” Said Lefchanka. “After we woke up, they robbed us of our mattress. Then they stopped the hot water and the toilet stopped working. The bed was a metal frame, so it was hard to sleep. I spread the newspaper and the clothes I wore on to cover the bed. ”

The 6-foot-5 Lefchanka said he didn’t take a shower, rarely went out, and was infected with fleas.

This was also in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic, but there was no social distance or wearing a mask. Lefchanka said prison officials ignored their complaints.

After serving 15 days in prison, Lefchanka was released and arrested again. She tried to participate in the protest, but this time she was fined and released. She finally left the country for Greece.

Lefchanka said he had been tested for coronavirus after his release and the test returned to negative. Unfortunately, she felt sick a few weeks later and was retested and infected with COVID-19.

“I went to the bath and sniffed all the cream and confirmed that it really disappeared. I was right, it happened. I didn’t have to panic, but weird “I felt it,” Leuchanka wrote on social media. “I had another test in the morning and it was confirmed that I was infected with COVID-19. My body temperature dropped, but I could only feel the taste of food and I could breathe without any problems. I have a stuffy nose. ”

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Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg.

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Jelena Lefchanka looks back on prison time for Belarusian protest

Source link Jelena Lefchanka looks back on prison time for Belarusian protest

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