Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – A court in Minsk has sentenced Belarusian activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Alice Bialiatsky to 10 years in prison with maximum security, as the court convicted him of smuggling charges, according to the Russian (TASS) news agency, Friday.
Exile Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya criticized the verdict against Bialiatsky and other activists during the same trial, calling it “appalling”.
“We must do everything in our power to fight this shameful injustice and set them free,” she wrote on Twitter.
Germany also described the 10-year prison sentence against Bialiatsky as an attack by Minsk on civil society.
German Foreign Minister Analina Baerbock, on Twitter, slammed the trial and charges against Bialiatsky and the co-defendants Valentin Stefanovic and Vladimir Lapkovich as a “farce”. She added that they had been sentenced “only for their continuous struggle for years for the rights, dignity and freedom of the people of Belarus”.
“The Minsk regime is fighting civil society with violence and imprisonment, and this is a daily disgrace like Lukashenko’s support for Putin’s war in Ukraine,” said Annalina Berbuk.
Berbuk urged Belarus to end political persecution, and demanded the release of all over 1,400 political prisoners.
Bialiatsky, a pro-democracy activist, has documented human rights abuses in Belarus since the 1980s. He founded Viasna, or “Spring”, in 1996 after a referendum consolidated the authoritarian powers of President Alexander Lukashenko, Russia’s close ally.
The activist was arrested in 2020 amid widespread protests against the Lukashenko regime.
Bialiatsky won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, along with human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine. The winners were honored for their “outstanding efforts in documenting war crimes, human rights violations and abuses of power” in their countries.
France also condemned, in a statement, the issuance of a 10-year prison sentence by a Belarusian court to Alice Bialiatsky, and considered that the verdict was “clearly motivated by political considerations.”
“This ruling once again testifies to the unprecedented policy of repression practiced by the Belarusian authorities against the peaceful protest movement that emerged after the rigged presidential elections on August 9, 2020,” the statement added.
France “calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Bialiatsky, as well as all political prisoners in Belarus,” the statement said.