Ales Bialiatski's Biography
Ales (Aliaksandr) Viktaravich Bialiatski was born on 25 September 1962 in the town of Värtsilä in the Republic of Karelia, Russia, to Belarusian parents who had left Belarus for better salaries. His father Viktar Ustsinavich and mother Nina Aliaksandrauna returned to Belarus in 1964 to settle in the newly founded town of Svetlahorsk, where Ales finished local School #5.
In 1979, Ales Bialiatski entered the History and Philology Department of Homel State University, where he started his literature studies and civil activities. In 1984, Ales Bialiatski received a degree in philology to work as a teacher in Lelchytsy district, Homel region, before being admitted to the post-graduate department of the Literature Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Belarus.
In 1984, Ales Bialiatski was called up for military service as an armoured tractor driver in an artillery anti-tank battalion in Sverdlovsk region, Russia.
After the army Ales Bialiatski continued his studies, pursuing science, writing and public activities. In 1986, Ales Bialiatski was one of co-founders of the Tuteyshyia Association of Young Writers, and chaired it between 1986 and 1989.
He was one of the initiators of the Martyrology of Belarus and joined the organizing committee of the Belarusian Popular Front “Adradzhenne” in 1988. He later worked as the Front’s central office secretary (1996-1999) and deputy chair (1999-2001). Ales Bialiatski was also an applicant of one of the first mass demonstrations “Dziady” in 1988. In 1990, he was a co-founder of the Belarusian Catholic Hramada.
Having graduated from the post-graduate department in 1989, Ales Bialiatski refused to defend his dissertation, which was later used as a basis for a book “Literature and Nation” published in 1991.
He then for some time worked as a junior research assistant at the Museum of the History of Belarusian Literature. In 1989, Ales Bialiatski was elected head of the Maksim Bahdanovich Literature Museum to leave the post in 1998. The museum’s exhibition and its three branches were opened in those years.
Ales Bialiatski was member of Minsk City Council between 1991 and 1995.
In 2000-2004, he occupied the position of head of the Working Group of the Assembly of Belarusian Pro-Democratic NGOs. He is currently deputy head of the Assembly’s Working Group.
Ales Bialiatski is married. He has got a son.
Ales Bialiatski is member of a number of literature and journalists’ unions: the Union of Belarusian Writers (1995), the Belarusian Pen-Center, and the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
Ales Bialiatski is the author of a book of essays “Jogging along Lake Geneva Shore” published in 2006.
Ales Bialiatski has been chair of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” since 1996. In 2003, the Human Rights Center “Viasna” was deprived of a state registration by order of the Supreme Court, which was considered as violation of its members’ right to freedom of association by the UN Human Rights Committee in 2007. The Center unsuccessfully applied for registration twice (in 2007 and 2009); however, the applications were dismissed by the Belarusian Ministry of Justice.
Viasna’s partners include over 15 international and foreign human rights organizations, the Human Rights Center itself being member of two major international associations: the International federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the European Network of Election Monitoring (ENEMO). In 2007, Ales Bialiatski was elected Vice-President of FIDH.
Ales Bialiatski has been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2006 and 2007.
Ales Bialiatski’s courageous and persistent activities for the protection of human rights in Belarus and worldwide have been recognized by numerous international awards. In 2006, he was awarded the Swedish Per Anger Prize, the Andrey Sakharov Freedom Award (Norwegian Helsinki Committee), and the Homo Homini Prize (“People in Need”).
In 2010, the authorities of Genoa (Italy) awarded Ales Bialiatski the title of “honourable citizen of Genoa”.
In 2011, the Human Rights Center “Viasna” was awarded the U.S. Atlantic Council’s Freedom Award.