Olympic Medalist Begins Hunger Strike

An Olympic medalist has started a 10-day hunger strike to support the victims of political repression in his home country of Belarus. Andrei Krauchanka, who earned a silver medal in the decathlon during the 2008 Games in Bejing, said he is selling his European indoor decathlon gold medal from 2011 along with the hunger strike. This was done to help families of political prisoners.

Protesters in the country have asked for authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to resign after an allegedly rigged election that gave him his sixth term in office. The protesting has led to police arresting more than 34,000 people and beating many of them. Krauchanka was one of the people who have been arrested and detained.

"Real people are sitting behind bars right now — these are their real lives, these are the broken lives of their families," Krauchanka said in a statement about his hunger strike. "It is very difficult for me to digest this terrifying Belarusian reality." Krauchanka also talked about how his family was worried about him after he was arrested, which happened back in November.

"My family thought I had disappeared," he said in a video message. "For four days my lawyer had no information about where I was or what had happened to me." He also revealed that he was against a wall for 14 hours while in prison and received no food nor clothes and returned home with COVD-19. All this has led to him fasting and selling the gold medal he won in 2011.

“It is really special for me, as I won it competing with a serious injury. It was painful, but now it hurts a hundred times more. That is also why I decided to announce a ten-day hunger strike in solidarity with political prisoners, “Krauchanka said.