Belarusian political and human rights activist and co-winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, Ales Bialiatski, was sentenced this Friday to ten years in prison by the Belarusian Justice
At the end of a court case that opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime label as “political”, a court in Minsk found that Bialiatski and two other activists illicitly funded “activities that grossly violated public order”.
Valiantsin Stefanovic was sentenced to nine years in prison and Uladzimir Labkovich received a sentence of seven years.
At issue is the involvement of the three in the massive protests of 2020 and 2021 against the regime, following Lukashenko’s declaration of victory in the presidential elections of August 2020, considered fraudulent and whose result was neither by the opposition nor by the European Union. .
Ales Bialiatski, 60, is one of the oldest members of the country’s pro-democracy movement, having founded the viana (Primavera, in Portuguese), a human rights organization that documents and denounces torture practices against political prisoners in Belarus.
Arrested in 2021, the activist has already served a three-year prison sentence, between 2011 and 2014, because of a previous conviction, for tax fraud. As in that process, he also pleads not guilty in this one and says that they are nothing more than the regime’s strategies to try to silence him.
“The allegations against our colleagues are linked to their human rights activity at the Viasna human rights center, which offers help to victims of politically motivated persecution,” the organization said in a statement, quoted by Reuters.
In the same vein, the main figure of the opposition to Lukashenko and presidential candidate in the 2020 elections, Svetlana Tikhanouskaia, took to Twitter to once again denounce the “fake trial of the regime” and “vengeful” of the regime against critics and promise support for those convicted .
“Today’s condemnation of Viasna human rights defenders – including Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski is simply deplorable. Ales dedicated his life to fighting tyranny. He is a true hero of Belarus and will be honored long after the dictator is forgotten,” wrote Tikhanouskaia, in one of several messages published this Friday.
Bialiatski was awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, together with the human rights organizations Memorial, from Russia, and Center for Civil Liberties, from Ukraine, for demonstrating the “importance of civil society for peace and democracy”.
The choice of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners was clearly influenced by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.
Alexander Lukashenko and the Government of Belarus are on the list of main allies of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, providing significant logistical support to the Russian military operation in Ukrainian territory, with which Belarus also shares a border.
At the end of last year, suspicions even grew, among the Ukrainian Government and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team, that Belarus was planning to get directly involved in the conflict.