Calls have grown to free Belarus basketball legend Yelena Leuchanka.

Former team-mates in the WNBA, international colleagues and NBA stars among those who have openly called for the centre to be released from prison following her vocal protests for an end to the authoritarian regime of its president, Alexander Lukashenko.

Leuchanka, who played in the WNBA, China and for several European clubs, was arrested at Minsk airport last week while seeking to leave the country for medical treatment, according to Belarussian sources.

The 37-year-old, active in protests on the streets and online, was jailed for 15 days on charges relating to “Violation of the rules of organising or holding mass events” and “Disobedience to the police”.

The European Union imposed selective sanctions against Belarus on Thursday, but not against Lukashenko himself. European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “There will be no impunity for those who are responsible for the crackdown on demonstrators and opposition politicians.”

Protesters have taken to the streets of the country since Lukashenko claimed a sixth term with 80 percent of the vote in the August 9 election.

Thousands of protesters, some of whom have reported torture and abuse while in custody, are believed to have been detained.


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А вы согласны? 😅👌🏼🔥 #freebelarus #belaruslivesmatter #belarus #belarusnow

A post shared by Yelena Leuchanka (@yelenaleu) on

Former Belarus team-mate and current Sacramento Kings assistant coach Linsey Harding and Boston Celtics centre Enes Kanter were among those supporting the two-time Olympian’s speedy freedom.

Leuchanka played for Charlotte, Washington and Atlanta in the WNBA and had frequently retained a base in Atlanta in recent years.

Photo: FIBA Europe

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