Ales Bialiatski: activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner, sentenced to 10 years in prison

Belarus on Friday sentenced Nobel Prize-winning activist Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in prison, prompting strong international condemnation.

who founded the most prominent human rights group in the authoritarian country, has repeatedly run into problems with the security services in Belarus, often called “Europe’s last dictatorship”.

He found himself in the dock with two allies after they were imprisoned after historic demonstrations against the country’s leader Alexander Lukashenko’s contested re-election in 2020.

The 60-year-old man and his accomplices were convicted of smuggling and financing “activities that grossly violate public order,” said Viasna, a human rights group founded by Mr. Byalyatsky.

On Friday, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, while co-defendants Valentin Stefanovich and Vladimir Labkovich were sentenced to nine and seven years in prison, respectively.

“These are very harsh sentences for everyone,” Byalyatsky’s wife Natalya Pinchuk said in comments published by Viasna. “Conditions are terrible.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The fourth defendant, Dmitry Solovyov, who was tried in absentia, was sentenced to eight years.

The conditions prompted immediate condemnation, with the UN saying “arbitrary arrests and detentions of Belarusian human rights defenders on politically motivated charges are alarming.”

The Nobel Committee described the case as “politically motivated” and said “the verdict shows that the current regime is using every means to suppress its critics.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock called the accusations and proceedings “a farce”. The French Foreign Ministry criticized Minsk for its “unprecedented policy of repression.”

Mr. Byalyatsky was one of three co-winners of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, along with Russian and Ukrainian human rights organizations.

Mr. Bialiatski’s organization, founded in 1996, is the best-known human rights group in Belarus and exposes the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of Mr. Lukashenko and his security forces.

Mr. Lukashenko has ruled the country with an iron fist for nearly three decades.

and allowed Moscow to bring troops into Ukraine from Belarus last February.

Belarus has witnessed a historic protest movement condemning Lukashenka’s controversial re-election in 2020.

With the help of Mr. Putin, Mr. Lukashenko cracked down hard on the opposition movement, imprisoning his critics or sending them into exile.

Mr. Solovyov, who fled to Poland and was convicted in absentia, called the trial a “propaganda spectacle” and a “reprisal against human rights activists.”

“The fact that human rights defenders were caged and handcuffed during the trial shows the degree of brutality with which the regime treats opponents,” he told AFP.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *