On March 3, Minsk's Leninski District Court (Judge - Maryna Zapasnik) announced the verdict in the case of political and human rights activists from the Human Rights Center "Viasna", Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich and Uladimir Labkovich. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bialiatski was sentenced to 10 years in prison (prosecutor Aliaksandr Karol asked for 12 years), Stefanovich - to 9 years (prosecutor asked for 11), Labkovich - to 7 years (prosecutor asked for 9), human rights activist Dzmitry Salauiou, who was "tried" in absentia (he is abroad) - to 8 years in prison (prosecutor asked for 10 years). All of them received sentences in a high-security penal colony. They were found guilty of "smuggling by an organized group" and "financing group actions that grossly violate public order". The political prisoners have pleaded not guilty. It is known that they are being prosecuted for helping the oppressed Belarusians.
At the reading of the verdict, they brought security forces into the courtroom and occupied almost all the seats, human rights activists wrote. The hands of the political prisoners were tied behind their backs.
All except Ales Bialiatski were also fined three thousand basic units (111 thousand BYN or 44,000 USD). The head of "Viasna" was fined, as requested by the prosecutor, five thousand basic units (185 thousand BYN or 73,000 USD).
The criminal case, consisting of 284 volumes, was considered by the court in an accelerated mode -- the trial began on January 5. The political prisoners have been behind bars since the summer of 2021.
The news about the Nobel laureate convicted in Belarus will undoubtedly reach the world media. It will be another blow to the "image" of Lukashenka's Belarus.
The sentencing of @viasna96 human rights defenders today - including #NobelPeacePrize laureate Ales Bialiatski - is simply appalling. 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. pic.twitter.com/siSwoYGYWn— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) March 3, 2023