Jailed Belarussian political rights activist Ales Bialiatski has become the first person to receive the Council of Europe’s Václav Havel Human Rights Prize.
The founder of Viasna Human Rights Centre in Minsk, Bialiatski is serving a four and a half year sentence in Belarus after being found guilty of tax evasion.
His wife Natalia Pinchuk collected the award at the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on his behalf.
The jury described Bialiatski as a political prisoner and praised his fight for democracy in Belarus.
President Alexander Lukashenko has been in power in Belarus for almost 20 years, stifling all opposition. He has been described as the head of ‘the last dictatorship in Europe’. Lukashenko is the subject of EU sanctions including a travel ban.