Ales Bialiatski: Nobel Peace Prize winner sentenced to ten years in prison

A Belarussian court sentenced Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski to ten years in prison.

He was convicted of smuggling and financing “grossly violating public order,” according to the Viasna human rights group.

Supporters of Mr Bialiatski, 60, claim that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime is attempting to silence him.

Mr Bialiatski was one of three Nobel Peace Prize laureates in 2022.

Following massive street protests over widely disputed elections the previous year, he was arrested in 2021 and accused of smuggling cash into Belarus to fund opposition activity.

During the demonstrations, which began in 2020, demonstrators were met with police brutality, and Lukashenko critics were regularly arrested and jailed.

Mr. Bialiatski appeared in court with two other campaigners, Valentin Stefanovich and Vladimir Labkovich.

According to Viasna, the group Mr Bialiatski founded in 1996, Mr Stefanovich was sentenced to nine years in prison, while Mr Labkovich received seven years.

All three had entered not guilty pleas.
Mr Bialiatski’s wife, Natalya Pinchuk, said the trial was “obviously against human rights defenders for their human rights work”, describing it as a “cruel” verdict.

“He always writes that everything is fine,” she said of her husband’s letters from prison, where he has been held since his arrest. He doesn’t complain about his health because he doesn’t want to upset me.”

Kostya Staradubets, a spokesperson for Viasna, said the sentences imposed on the three activists were “breaking our hearts”.

“We knew that our three colleagues would get long prison terms, but it’s still a shock, it’s breaking our hearts, not only the [prison] terms are long, but the conditions are also very horrific,” he said on the BBC World Service’s Newshour.

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