World champion kickboxer Alexey Kudin faces possible extradition from Russia to his homeland of Belarus amid concern the athlete may be politically persecuted and tortured.
Kudin, nicknamed the Brick, was detained in Moscow after fleeing to Russia in the autumn, the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Fund wrote on Instagram January 21.
The mixed martial arts fighter faces extradition to Belarus on charges of assaulting a security officer during pro-democracy protests against strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
The athlete, who has made sharp statements about Belarusian security forces and the government on social media, may face “torture, repression, and even death” if extradited to Belarus, the foundation said.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.
Kudin was at an anti-government rally in the central town of Maladzyechna a day after the disputed August 9 presidential election when security forces attacked protesters with tear gas and batons.
During the melee, the heavyweight world champion kickboxer knocked out a security officer.
The fighter was later arrested near a hospital, where he went to treat his injuries.
While in detention, he was beaten and shot with rubber bullets again before being released on house arrest two weeks later.
He then fled to Russia, skipping his trial in November and was declared wanted.
Several protesters have been killed and thousands arrested during the ongoing mass demonstrations demanding Lukashenka’s resignation following the August election.
There have also been credible reports of torture during a widening security crackdown.