Belarusian Dressage Rider Olga Safranova Seeks Asylum in Poland

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 10:19
Olga Safronova and Sandro D'Amour at the 2019 World Cup Finals :: Photo © Dirk Caremans

Belarusian international Grand Prix rider Olga Safranova has sought asylum in Poland, fleeing the repression from dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

Safronova joins a list of  Belarusian sport athlete who, after repressions in Belarus, found refuge in Poland. She requested a humanitarian visa in Poland according to PAP. Safronova is on the list of  "traitors of the motherland" for criticising the president Lukashenko.

Authoritarian Rule in Belarus

Lukashenko heads an authoritarian government and has often been referred to by media outlets as "Europe's last dictator". Elections are not considered to be free and fair by international monitors, opponents of the regime are repressed, and the media is not free. 

His disputed victory in the country's 2020 presidential election led to widespread allegations of vote rigging, which strongly amplified anti-government protests, the largest during his rule.  The United Nations Human Rights Office cited more than 450 documented cases of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, as well as reports of sexual abuse and rape. 

Lukashenko is not recognized by the United Kingdom, the European Union, or the United States as the legitimate president of Belarus. However, Lukashenko is recognized by a number of states including Russia, China, and Iran.

No Tokyo

The 29-year old Olga Safronova began her international dressage career in 2013 in the young horse classes with Sandro D'Amour and Fuchur. In 2016 she moved to small tour level and in 2018 rode her first Grand Prix tests on Sandro D'Amour.

In 2019 the pair qualified for the World Cup Finals in Gothenburg through the Central European League and finished 17th in the freestyle. 

Belarus obtained an individual slot to compete at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo for Group C (Central & Eastern Europe; Central Asia) but officially the country "declined".

Sofranova told Eurodressage that the Belarusian "pro-government" veterinary commission claimed her horse was lame. 

"I took him to Poland to an independent vet clinic to get a vet check. They confirmed my horse was not lame and is fit to compete," Safronova explained. 

To Poland Via Turkey and Ukraine

Safronova has fled to Poland as she had been put on the list  of "traitors of the motherland", which includes over 40 athletes from the Belarusian team

Safronova asked the Polish authorities to grant her and her partner a humanitarian visa. Her partner fled Belarus through Lviv in Ukraine via Turkey, where he obtained a visa at the Polish consulate. Safronova's two horses arrived in Poland only last Saturday.

Safronova's help in obtaining a visa and in bringing horses was provided, among others, by Member of the Civic Coalition Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, who is associated with the equestrian community.

"Everything was managed efficiently, thanks to the help of the Polish ambassador Minsk," Kluzik-Rostkowska told PAP.

Photo © Dirk Caremans

Related Links
Dina Ellermann Gets Late Invitation to go to 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo
Russia takes Tokyo 2020 Ticket at Exciting Olympic Qualifier in Moscow