In 2022, Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with the Memorial human rights group, a Russian organisation investigating Stalinist crimes, and the Ukrainian Centre for Civil Liberties. (PAP)
Poland’s Foreign Ministry has denounced as “unjust” the sentencing of Ales Bialiatski, the Belarusian Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights defender, to ten years in prison.
A Belarusian court sentenced the 60-year-old activist on Friday after finding him guilty of smuggling and financing activities that violated public order.
“Today in Minsk, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to ten years in prison,” Lukasz Jasina, Foreign Ministry spokesman wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“Along with him, three other human rights defenders in Belarus were sentenced,” he added.
Jasina later told PAP: “Poland opposes politically motivated trials and calls for the release of all political prisoners. We condemn the unjust sentence passed in Minsk on the hero of the fight for the freedom of his nation. Ales Bialiatski is a symbol of the true Belarus.”
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki took to social media later on Friday to comment on the ruling made by “the regime’s court in Minsk.”
“The authorities have repeatedly tried to silence him, but Bialiatski has not given up an inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Today’s verdict is another scandalous decision of the Belarusian court made in the recent past,” the post said.
Morawiecki also wrote that two other leaders of the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna, Valiantsin Stefanovic and Uladzimir Labkovich, were sentenced to nine and seven years, respectively.
“Poland firmly opposes politically motivated trials and calls for the release of unjustly convicted persons,” the prime minister said in his post.
Bialiatski founded Viasna in 1996. It was outlawed by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, in 2003, but has never ceased its activities.
As part of repressions following the post-election protests in Belarus in 2010, Bialiatski was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for allegedly not paying taxes. In 2014, he was released under an amnesty programme, but was arrested again in 2021.
In 2022, Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with the Memorial human rights group, a Russian organisation investigating Stalinist crimes, and the Ukrainian Centre for Civil Liberties.