Ales Bialiatski (Алесь Віктаравіч Бяляцкі) - is the founder and chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and former vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (in 2007-2016).
Over 25 years of activity, Ales Bialiatski has received numerous prizes in the field of human rights: in 2006 - the Swedish Peer Anger Prize, the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award, the Homo Homini Award (awarded by Václav Havel); in 2011 - Human Rights Defender of the Year Award, Norwegian Writers' Union Award for Freedom of Speech; in 2012 - the U.S. State Department's Award, Lech Wałęsa Award, Petra Kelly Award; in 2013 - PACE's Václav Havel Human Rights Prize; in 2020 - the Right Livelihood Award. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times. Ales is the author of several books.
Ales Bialiatski was arrested on July 14, 2021 as part of a criminal case. His home and the organization's office were searched.
Statement on the status of political prisoner
Bialiatski faced charge of "tax evasion" (Art. 243 of the Criminal Code).
On September 26, 2022, it became known that the criminal charges of ‘tax evasion’ under Part 2 of Article 243 of the Criminal Code against Valiantsin Stefanovic, Ales Bialiatski, Uladzimir Labkovich, and other Viasna members were dropped. However, Bialiatski, Labkovich, and Stefanovic were not released from custody as they were charged with ‘smuggling’ by “having illegally moving cash across the customs border of the Eurasian Economic Union in large amounts by an organized group” under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code and with ‘the financing of group activities, grossly violating public order’ under Part 2 Article 342 of the Criminal Code. It is known that the state's claims remain for the same amount of money, which appeared in the charges for tax evasion.
On December 10, the International Human Rights Day, in Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony took place. This year, three nominees received the prestigious award at once: the head of Viasna Ales Bialiatski, the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties and the Russian Memorial human rights group. The human rights defender Ales Bialiatski could not personally receive the award — he has been behind bars under criminal charges for 17 months. That is why his wife Natallia Pinchuk received the award on behalf of Ales Bialiatski.
The Lieninski District Court of Minsk set the trial date in the criminal case against Viasna human rights defenders: chairman and Nobel Peace Prize 2022 laureate Ales Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovic, and Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign coordinator Uladzimir Labkovich. Zmitser Salauyou, another defendant, has left Belarus and will be tried in absentia.
The trial of Viasna's human rights defenders began on January 5, 2023 and was very fast. In just 19 days, judge Maryna Zapasnik managed to listen to dozens of witnesses, examine 284 (!) volumes of the criminal case, and hear the testimonies of the imprisoned human rights defenders.
Oral arguments took place on February 9 and 10. Prosecutor Aliaksandr Karol requested 12 years in a penal colony for Ales Bialiatski, which was the maximum term for the articles incriminated to the human rights defender.
“Enough is enough, we must stop this civil war”. Ales Bialiatski's last word in court
On March 3, 2023,the verdict in the Viasna case was announced. Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 5,000 basic units (approx. $69,000). The court also ruled to recover from Bialiatski, Stefanovic, Labkovich and Salauyou a total of 752,438 rubles (almost $297,650), which they allegedly "obtained by criminal means" through "smuggling by an organized group."
The international community strongly criticized the sentencing of the Viasna human rights defenders.
All news about Ales Bialiatski
Support Ales by writing to him:
SIZO-1, 220030, Minsk, vulica Valadarskaha 2 (Belarus)
Ales Bialiatski (Аляксандру Віктаравічу Бяляцкаму)