According to TASS, Russia’s state news agency, Ales Bialiatski, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Belarus, was sentenced on Friday, March 3, 2023, to 10 years in prison. The court found him guilty of smuggling.
Belarusian court sentences Nobel laureate Bialiatski to 10 years in prison:https://t.co/Ddo3YGUiMa pic.twitter.com/zQkP8aP6QX
— TASS (@tassagency_en) March 3, 2023
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled leader of the Belarusian opposition called the sentences handed down to Bialiatski and the other activists in the same trial “appalling”. On Twitter, she pleaded “We must do everything to fight against this shameful injustice & free them”.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski has been sentenced to 10 yrs in prison, Valiantsin Stefanovic to 9 yrs & Uladzimir Labkovich to 7 yrs in the regime’s fake trial against human rights defenders. We must do everything to fight against this shameful injustice & free them. pic.twitter.com/r2y68QIjrO
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) March 3, 2023
The German government has condemned the 10-year sentence as an assault on society by Minsk. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock slammed the charges and said:
Trial against Bialiatski and co-defendants Valentin Stefanovich and Vladimir Labkovich as a ”farce” adding they were being judged simply because of their years-long fight for the rights, dignity and freedom of people in Belarus. The Minsk regime is fighting civil society with violence and imprisonment. This is as much a daily disgrace as Lukashenko’s support for Putin’s war in Ukraine.”
Baerbock called on Belarus to stop its political persecuting and demanded the release of all 1,400 political prisoners. Let’s read more about Belarusian Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski.
When did Ales Bialiatski Get His Nobel Prize?
Bialiatski received his degree in Russian and Belarusian philology from Gomel State University in 1984. He was born on September 25. He began his career as a teacher but eventually went on to become a scholar of Belarusian literature and the director of a museum.
Together with the Russian human rights organization Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties, Bialiatski, age 60, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.
Other activists for human rights have hailed him as an inspiration for standing up to oppression in both Belarus and around the world. Bialiatski’s wife, Natalia Pinchuk, accepted the award on his behalf and on December 10, said that fighting for civil liberties is a “risky” mission.
Bialiatski is only the fourth inmate to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
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Activist for Human Rights and Democracy
Since the 1980s, Bialiatski has been at the helm of a pro-democracy movement in Belarus. He began anti-Soviet protests and a campaign for Belarusian independence and democracy well in advance of the fall of the Soviet Union.
After longtime president Alexander Lukashenko instituted controversial constitutional changes in 1996, he founded Belarus’s most prominent human rights organization, Viasna.
Viasna, which means “Spring,” is Bialiatski’s organization through which he provided financial and legal support to imprisoned protesters and their families and documented the torture and abuse of political prisoners by authorities.
Russia has denied the allegations made against them.
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Why did Ales Bialiatski Go to Prison in 2011?
From 2011 to 2014, Bialiatski was incarcerated for what he claimed was his unjust imprisonment on a charge of tax evasion related to the funding of Viasna.
As mass protests against Lukashenko’s latest election erupted in Belarus in 2020, Viasna meticulously recorded the total number of people detained in police crackdowns and during protests.
Lukashenko’s detractors have claimed that Bialiatski’s re-arrest in 2021 on tax evasion charges was an attempt to stifle his speech and writing.
Bialiatski became the symbol of the global fight against tyranny and for the rights of ordinary people of Belarusians,” Franak Viacorka, a Belarusian opposition politician and senior adviser to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian Democratic Movement.