In reaction to the opening of the hearing in the context of the political case against Ales Bialiatski, winner 2022 of the Nobel Peace Prize and President of the Viasna Center for Human Rights, and his colleagues Valiantsin Stefanovich, Uladzimir Labkovich and Dzmitry Salauyou, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Program Director, Marie Struthers, said:
“The trial against Ales Bialiatski and his fellow human rights defenders is a flagrant act of injustice in which the state is clearly seeking revenge for their activism. In this parody of a trial, the defendants cannot even hope for a semblance of justice. The judge refused to conduct the trial in Belarusian and not in Russian, but also to remove their handcuffs or to adjourn the hearing so that the defendants could familiarize themselves with the documents relating to the case.
“The trial against Ales Bialiatski and his fellow human rights defenders is a blatant act of injustice wherein the state is clearly seeking to enact revenge for their activism. In this shameful pretense of a trial, the defendants cannot even hope for a semblance of justice. The judge has not only refused to conduct the trial in Belarusian instead of Russian, but also to remove their handcuffs or adjourn the hearing so the defendants can familiarize themselves with the case materials.
In this parody of a trial, the defendants cannot even hope for a semblance of justice.
Marie Struthers, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International
“In a country where politically motivated prosecutions and mass imprisonment of critics of the government are commonplace, human rights work is as essential as it is dangerous. The government of Alexander Lukashenko is particularly vindictive towards human rights activists and the outcome of this “trial” seems to be very cruel.
“The authorities must immediately drop all charges against Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich and Uladzimir Labkovich and immediately and unconditionally release them. »
Ales Bialiatski, founder and president of the Viasna Center for Human Rights, Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy director of Viasna and vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights, and Uladzimir Labkovich, lawyer of Viasna, are wrongfully accused of having “transmitted large sums of money and financed collective actions seriously undermining public order”. They have been held in detention since July 2021, while their co-accused Dzmitry Salauyou, in exile, is tried in absentia. They face up to 12 years in prison.
The prosecution alleges that they smuggled at least 201,000 euros and 54,000 US dollars across the border and used these funds to finance illegal protest activities.
During and in the wake of the massive peaceful protests against widely denounced electoral fraud in 2020, Viasna did a remarkable job of documenting and exposing the numerous human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and unfair trials.