A Belarusian court has sentenced human rights defender, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski to ten years of imprisonment in a strict-regime penal colony, correspondent for Russia’s state news agency TASS reports.
The prosecutor previously requested 12 years in a colony for Bialiatski.
The Viasna Human Rights Centre states that the other defendants, human rights defenders Valentin Stefanovich and Vladimir Labkovich, have been sentenced to nine and seven years behind bars respectively. They have spent over 1.5 years in a pre-trial detention centre, after being accused of smuggling and “financing protests”. Dmitry Solovyov, who previously left the country, has been sentenced to eight years of imprisonment in absentia.
Judge Marina Zapasnik has ruled that the guilt of human rights defenders over charges of smuggling by an organised group and financing group activities that grossly violate public order had been completely proven.
The four men were accused of “smuggling at least €201,000 and $54,000” and “financing protest rallies under the guise of human rights activities”.
Ales Bialiatski won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize together with Russia’s Memorial and Ukraine’s Centre for Civil Liberties “for their efforts in documenting war crimes, human rights abuses, and the abuse of power in their respective home countries.”
Bialiatski was a co-founder of Viasna, a democratic movement established in Belarus in the mid-1980s, and “dedicated his entire life to fighting for democracy and peace in Belarus,” the Nobel Committee said.