Belarus: Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski on trial in Minsk

(Reuters) – The trial of Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, co-winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, opened on Thursday in Minsk where he is being prosecuted for “illegal financing of demonstrations” and “money laundering”, charges that could earn him up to 12 years in prison.

The allies of the co-founder of the human rights organization Viasna denounce a political trial.

Ales Bialiatski, 60, was arrested in 2021 along with two members of Viasna in Belarus, as part of the crackdown on protests following the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The three men appear together. A fourth activist, who fled Belarus, is being tried in absentia.

They face seven to twelve years in prison.

Ales Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last October alongside the Russian rights group Memorial and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties.

“The allegations against our colleagues are related to their human rights activity, namely the assistance provided by the Viasna Human Rights Center to victims of politically motivated persecution,” the group said. .

Ales Bialiatski and his co-accused are called “political prisoners” by other rights defenders, who estimate that around 1,500 political prisoners are currently held in Belarusian prisons.

(Reporting Tom Balmforth; written by Timothy Heritage; French version Augustin Turpin, edited by)

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