Belarusian football player Ilya Shkurin says he will not represent the country’s national team while Alexander Lukashenko remains president.
The 21-year-old forward made the announcement on Instagram, accompanied by a picture of a protester wearing Belarus’ white and red flag that has been used by anti-government protesters.
Tens of thousands gathered in the capital city of Minsk on Sunday, a week on from Lukashenko’s victory in the presidential election which independent observers have criticized for not being free and fair.
Thousands of people have been detained during protests against the government over the last week after opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fled the country to Lithuania.
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, meanwhile gave a speech to government supporters in Minsk on Sunday while protests were ongoing.
Shkurin moved to CSKA Moscow after top-scoring in the Belorussian league last season with 19 goals.
He had been selected for Belarus’ UEFA Nations League matches against Albania and Kazakhstan in September.
“I again find out about getting into the extended list of the national team through social networks therefore will post my answer here too,” Shkurin wrote on Instagram.
“Long live Belarus.”
The Belarus Football Federation (BFF) did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment regarding Shkurin’s decision.
“Sports and football in particular have always been and should remain a peaceful arena, neutral in political, religious, ethnic, racial and any other issues,” said a statement released by the BFF on Monday, which did not reference Shkurin.
“We are convinced and confident that, while staying in the legal field, everyone should observe the laws and moral norms. Protect each other, maintain a human relationship with each other.
“The BFF opposes the manifestation of any form of violence and discrimination for political and other reasons. We urge everyone, regardless of their political views, to comply with the norms established by law.
“All issues should be resolved exclusively by peaceful means.”
According to Reuters, Belarusian league matches have been postponed for an unspecified period due to the political crisis.