Nobel Peace Prize winner sentenced to 10 years in Belarus

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko suggests former Soviet countries seek closer cooperation

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. Credit: Sasa Dzambic/Shutterstock

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE winner Ales Bialiatski has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Belarus court.

One of three winners of last year’s award, Mr Bialiatski has been found guilty of smuggling and financing “actions grossly violating public order”, the BBC has reported.

However, his supporters say the charges are false and that the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) is trying to sentence the 60-year-old activist.

Bialiatski was arrested in 2021 during a wave of protests over the widely disputed elections the previous year, in which Lukaschenko’s victory was strongly suspected to have been the result of a rigged count.

The activist was charged with smuggling cash into Belarus to fund opposition political activity, but pleaded not guilty in a trial in which he stood together with another two fellow protesters who received shorter jail sentences.

Belarus’s exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was quoted by the BBC as describing the sentence as “simply appalling”, while Mr Bialiatski’s wife, Natalya Pinchuk, said the trial was “obviously against human rights defenders for their human rights work”.

But the ruling has also drawn condemnation from international quarters, as German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock described the charges as a “farce” and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the verdict was “another scandalous decision of the Belarusian court in recent times”.

Poland expelled the Belarusian defence attaché to the country last month following the jailing of Belarusian-Polish journalist Andrzej Poczobut.

There are currently an estimated 1,460 political prisoners in Belarus according to the Viasna human rights group, while the Belarusian authorities claim there are none.


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Written by

Glenn Wickman

Glenn has been working on English-language newspapers in Alicante Province for more than 16 years. He currently writes the local news and Social Scene events for the Costa Blanca North and Mallorca editions of the Euro Weekly News.