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Belarusian Nobel Prize winner Bialiatski sentenced to 10 years in jail

 Bialiatski
Bialiatski Copyright Vitaly Pivovarchyk/BelTA
Copyright Vitaly Pivovarchyk/BelTA
By Euronews
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Human rights activist Ales Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 2022.

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Belarusian Nobel Peace Prize-winning pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski has been sentenced to 10 years in jail, according to hi rights group Viasna.

The 10-year prison sentence has been denounced as a "shameful injustice" by the main opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

"Ales has dedicated his life to fighting against tyranny. He is a true hero of Belarus & will be honored long after the dictator is forgotten," she said.

Bialiatski was sentenced alongside fellow human rights activists Valiantsin Stefanovic who received a nine-year jail term, and Uladzimir Labkovich who got a seven-year sentence. 

European Commission reaction

A European Commission spokesperson told Euronews they condemn the prison sentences for the activists, and plan to issue a statement later Friday. 

"We are watching and following very closely what is going on in Belarus and all the continued repression by the illegitimate Lukashenko regime against political opponents, against independent voices, against civil society activists, human rights defenders and media," a spokesman said. 

"We are supporting the civil society in Belarus. We are supporting people of Belarus." 

Who is Ales Bialiatski?

Ales Bialiatski was one of the leaders of the democracy movement in Belarus in the mid-1980s and has continued to campaign for human rights and civil liberties in the authoritarian country. He founded the non-governmental organization Human Rights Center Viasna and won the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes referred to as the “Alternative Nobel,” in 2020.

Bialiatski was detained following protests that year against the re-election of Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin.

When he was awarded the Peace Prize in 2022, the Nobel Committee said that "despite tremendous personal hardship, Mr Bialiatski has not yielded one inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus," and called on Belarusian authorities to release him. 

The Nobel Committee also said at the time they were aware of the possibility that by awarding Bialiatski the prize, he might face additional scrutiny from authorities in Belarus.

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