Prominent Belarusian basketball player gets hefty fine over showing up at protest rallies

Yahor Meshcharakou and his family at protest rally. Photo:

On October 22, a Minsk court found Yahor Meshcharakou guilty of taking part in an unauthorised mass event and imposed a fine of 540 rubles on him.

Meshcharakou, a former member of the country’s team, has been chosen the best Belarusian basketball player for five times. He was a deputy chairman at the Belarusian Basketball Federation, assistant to the head coach of the national team, and a co-instructor at Tsmoki Minsk club. He currently runs a youth sports club.

He is one of over 900 athletes who signed a petition to the Belarusian authorities, urging them to put an end to police violence and hold a fair election. Taking to the streets, he showed solidarity with sports persons and activists who lost their jobs for political reasons.

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The case of Yahor Meshcharakou is not uncommon. As reported earlier, Alena Leuchanka, another iconic Belarusian basketball star, was detained at Minsk Airport in late September. She was heavily fined and sentenced to 15 days in jail over participating in a peaceful march in the Belarusian capital city. Two Muay Thai champions Alyaksandra Sitnikava and Yury Bulat also got 10- and 15-day terms of administrative arrest.

Since recently, the sportspeople and their families who are facing persecution have had an opportunity to turn for aid to the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation headquartered in Vilnius. The organisation provides assistance to athletes by paying off fines and lawyers’ services.

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