Great Britain demands release of political prisoners in Belarus
“I am glad to hear that the Belarusian authorities released Ales Bialatski, the head of the Viasna human rights organization. I am glad that after three years in prison, he has now returned to his family”, - says Lidington’s statement, published on 24 June.
At the same time the British minister “insistently urges Belarusian authorities to release all the remaining political prisoners and fully restore them in their civic and political rights”. “Great Britain will keep putting pressure on the Belarusian government in order for them to improve the human rights situation”, - Lidington highlights.
The vice-president of the International Human Rights Federation, the leader of the human rights center Viasna, that had been shut down by the authorities, Ales Bialatski spent 1050 days behind bars and was released on 21 June under an amnesty.
He was arrested in August 2011 and sentenced to four and a half years in high security prison and the confiscation of property for tax evasion. The reason for the criminal persecution was the fact that Bialatski had banking accounts abroad, the funds in which were used for human rights activities. It was impossible to open banking accounts for these ends in Belarus, since the Viasna human rights center operates illegally – the authorities repeatedly denied the group official registration. The court also did not take into account that the alleged damage that Bialatski caused to the state, was fully reimbursed by charity contributions from citizens.
The human rights activist, recognized as a prisoner of conscience, served the prison term in the penal colony number 2 in Babrujsk (Mahilou region). In 2012, as well as in 2013 and 2014, Bialatski was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The release of Ales Bialatski was welcomed by the European Union, the USA as well as international human rights organizations.