Mikhail Prokopenko, the Head of the National Teams Department and President of the Belarusian Modern Pentathlon Federation, has been implicated in human rights violations related to political repression in Belarus towards athletes and sports specialists. Mr. Prokopenko is known to be controlled by and acting on behalf of Aleksandr Lukashenko.
As a high-ranking sports official, Mr. Prokopenko is responsible for the policies and actions of Belarusian sports organizations. He has been accused of actively supporting the government's policy of suppressing freedom of opinion and condemnation of violence and repressions carried out by the Belarusian authorities.
Mr. Prokopenko has reportedly held preventive conversations with athletes, coaches, and sports specialists and threatened them with repressive measures and dismissals in case they openly express any opinion that contradicts the state ideology. He is also said to have arbitrarily excluded modern pentathlon athletes who openly expressed their civic position from the application list to national teams, which was crucial for labor contract prolongation.
These actions are a violation of the right to work, the right to freedom of opinion, and the right to be engaged in sport. The international community has called for an end to human rights abuses in Belarus, and this recent development is likely to further fuel criticism of the country's government.