(MOSCOW) — Who is blocking Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko from attending the London Olympics? That’s what the head of Russia’s Olympic Committee wants to know after the man dubbed Europe’s Last Dictator did not receive permission to travel there for the games.
“The organizing committee in London did not give accreditation to National Olympic Committee President Alexander Lukashenko. Isn’t sports outside politics?” Alexander Zhukov wrote on his Twitter account, according to Russian news reports.
RIA Novosti reports that the International Olympic Committee and London organizers both denied barring Lukashenko from attending.
However, now the British Embassy in Minsk, Belarus’ capital, has confirmed that Lukashenko was denied permission to enter the country because he is one of several Belarusian officials banned from entering the European Union, part of the sanctions against them for human rights abuses.
“President Alexander Lukashenko is on the list of persons prohibited from entering the EU. This prohibition will continue to operate during the Olympic Games,” a spokesman for the embassy told Russia’s Interfax news agency, adding that the decision will not change.
So far Belarusian officials have offered no comment.
The sanctions on Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials were imposed after authorities cracked down on a protest movement last year.
Lukashenko reportedly dispatched his country’s Olympic team to London with a goal to win 25 medals, including 5 golds.
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Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Stephanie Halasz, Jason Hanna and Livia Borghese, CNN
James Griffiths, CNN