Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski sentenced to 10 years in prison in Belarus
Ales Bialiatski, Belarus’ leading human rights lawyer and one of the winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Minsk on Friday.
Bialiatski and three other top figures of the human rights center Viasna he founded were convicted of financing anti-government protests. They were arrested and jailed after massive protests over a 2020 election that gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko another term in office.
Lukashenko, in office since 1994, has suppressed opposition and cracked down on independent news media. The 2020 protests lasted several months, the largest wave of protests to hit Belarus, and the authorities cracked down.
More than 35,000 people were arrested and thousands were beaten by police.
The charges against Bialiatski and his colleagues related to Viasna’s providing money to political prisoners and helping pay their legal fees.
Bialiatski was honored in October by the Nobel Committee in Oslo, along with the Russian human rights organization Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties.
Supporter of democracy since the 1980s
Bialiatski, 60, has been an advocate for democracy in Belarus since the 1980s and founded Viasna, which means ‘spring’.
He was previously imprisoned between 2011 and 2014 for tax evasion, according to his supporters politically motivated.
Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, Valiantsin Stefanovic to 9 years & Uladzimir Labkovich to 7 years in the regime’s fake trial against human rights defenders. We must do everything we can to fight against this shameful injustice & set them free. pic.twitter.com/r2y68QIjrO
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has been in exile in Poland and then Lithuania since the 2020 elections, denounced the court’s ruling as “appalling” on Friday. She identified the other defendants in Minsk as Valiantsin Stefanovic and Uladzimir Labkovich.
“We must do everything we can to fight this shameful injustice [and] free them,” Tsikhaouskaya wrote in a tweet.
Dzmitry Salauyou, who fled the country, was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison.