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Defiant Belarus leader shrugs off sanctions, says athlete was ‘manipulated’

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By Natalia Zinets, William James and Elizabeth Piper KYIV/LONDON (Reuters) – A defiant President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday a Belarusian sprinter defected at the Olympic Games only because she had been “manipulated” by outside forces and shrugged off new British sanctions. At an hours-long news conference on the anniversary of an election which opponents said was rigged so that he could win, Lukashenko denied being a dictator and said he had defended Belarus against opponents plotting a coup. As he spoke in his presidential palace in Minsk, Britain announced its new sanctions targetin…

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