Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski on Friday was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Belarusian court for smuggling and financing “actions grossly violating public order.” He was arrested in 2021 for allegedly smuggling cash to fund opposition activity in Belarus.
Bialiatski co-founded the Viasna (Spring) human rights organization and faced sentencing alongside three of his colleagues. Valentin Stefanovich was sentenced to nine years, Vladimir Labkovich got seven, and Dmitry Solovyov received eight.
For more than 25 years, the Viasna group has worked to promote human rights, making it a thorn in the side of Lukashenko — and gaining notoriety within the rules-based international community. Now the president has made Bialiatski and his pro-democracy colleagues into political prisoners for fighting back against his tyranny.
Despite the mischaracterization of Western nations and institutions, Bialiatski and his colleagues are being punished for committing serious crimes. The Viasna group smuggled money across countries to fund disturbances and gross violations of public order in Belarus, disguising these acts as charitable human rights activities.