On Thursday, former WNBA player Yelena Leuchanka was released from a Belarusian jail after serving a 15-day sentence for violating public gathering orders, or really, protesting a disputed presidential election that occurred on August 9. Leuchanka played one season for the Washington Mystics in 2007, but was probably better known in the United States for playing collegiately at West Virginia from 2003-06.
According to Franak Viacorka, an advisor to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the losing candidate in the presidential election, Leuchanka was in rough conditions, including being denied showers, exercise hours or even functioning toilets during a trial.
Furthermore, she was apparently arrested again earlier Thursday, and required to spend another 72 hours in jail when she was initially expected to meet her family.
But ultimately, the courts ordered her to pay a fine and her immediate release.
Olympian basketball player Yelena Leuchanka was not released. Instead, she's been imprisoned for at least a further 72 hours and then will be prosecuted again. In the photo, her parents are crying by Akrescina jail, where they came expecting her release. pic.twitter.com/uhZm8aBCdO— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) October 15, 2020
Leuchanka has been ordered by the courts to pay a fine - she must be released today. pic.twitter.com/CIacpdtUrC— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) October 15, 2020
And Leuchanka was reunited with her family.
Here are the first moments of release when Leuchanka comforts her distraught mother and gives a brief interview, saying she is still struggling to come to terms with her ordeal. pic.twitter.com/qb42xykrMT— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) October 15, 2020
I am happy to see that Leuchanka appears okay under the circumstances. That said, it remains to be seen what her options are legally in Belarus. But it’s just wrong to see her and every other Belarusian jailed for participating in political protests.