Belarusian court sentences Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in prison
Belarusian Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski was sentenced on Friday by a Minsk court to 10 years imprisonment in a maximum security prison, Russia’s state news agency TASS reports.
According to TASS, he was found guilty of smuggling.
Germany called the Minsk government’s 10-year sentence in prison an attack on civil society.
On Twitter, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock slammed the charges and 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,” Baerbock said, adding ”this is as much a daily disgrace as Lukashenko’s support for Putin’s war (in Ukraine).”
Baerbock urged Belarus to end political persecution and demanded the release of all of the more than 1,400 political prisoners.
Also, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya slammed the sentencing of Bialiatski and other activists in the same trial as “appalling.”
“We must do everything to fight against this shameful injustice & free them,” she wrote on Twitter.
Bialiatski, a pro-democracy activist, has documented human rights abuses in Belarus since the 1980s. He founded the organization Viasna in 1996 after a referendum that consolidated the authoritarian powers of the president and close Russian ally, President Alexander Lukashenko.
He was arrested in 2020 amid widespread protests against Lukashenko’s regime.
Bialiatski won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 alongside human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine.
The new laureates were honored for “an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses, and the abuse of power” in their respective countries. “They have for many years promoted the right to criticize power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said at the time.