European athletes body calls for release of detained Belarusian basketball player


According to the body, Leuchanka was arrested last Wednesday at Minsk Airport and sentenced to 15 days in prison over her participation in protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed re-election.

“We condemn the arbitrary and violent treatment of the protesters and using any other type of pressure or repressions, including sporting and economic, against the Belarusian athletes,” read the EU Athletes statement.

It added that Leuchanka planned to leave the country to receive scheduled medical treatment abroad.

CNN has reached out to the Belarusian Interior Ministry for comment.

The 37-year-old is a center for the Belarus women’s national basketball team, a former player at several WNBA clubs in the United States and a two-time Olympian.

It comes as nearly 700 Belarusian sports figures have signed an open letter demanding new elections and an end to police violence, among others.

Unrest in Belarus erupted in August after President Alexander Lukashenko’s contested victory in an August 9 election that independent observers have criticized for not being free and fair.

Riot police have detained thousands of protesters prompting international condemnation and EU sanctions.

Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, assumed the office for his sixth consecutive term at an inauguration ceremony at the Palace of Independence in Minsk on September 23.



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