Nobel Peace Laureate Moved to Brutal Prison in Belarus, Wife Says

TALLINN (ESTONIA): Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatsky was transferred to a notoriously brutal prison in Belarus and has not been heard from for a month, his wife said on Wednesday.
Natalia Pinchuk told The Associated Press that Bialiatski, who is serving a 10-year sentence, has been kept in an information blackout since being transferred to colony N9 for repeat offenders in the town of Gorky, where inmates are beaten and subjected to forced labor. .
“The authorities are creating unbearable conditions for Ales and keeping him in strict informational isolation. There is not a single letter from him for a month, and he also does not receive my letters,” Pinchuk said by phone.
In March, a court convicted Bialiatski, 60 – Belarus’s foremost human rights defender and one of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureates – and three of his colleagues for funding actions undermining to public order and smuggling.
It was the latest move in a years-long crackdown on dissent that has engulfed the country since 2020.
Bialiatski has spent 20 months behind bars since his arrest in 2021, and Pinchuk fears his health is deteriorating.
“In the most recent letters, I see how his calligraphy has changed and I see how things are getting worse for him, both in terms of his health and his eyesight, and I’m very, very worried about that,” he said. she declared. She urged the United Nations to intervene.
The severe punishment of Bialiatski and three of his colleagues was a response to massive protests against the 2020 elections that re-elected authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1994. During the 2020 protests, the largest ever in Belarus, more than 35,000 people have been arrested and thousands beaten by police.
The four activists claimed their innocence, according to the Viasna Human Rights Center, founded by Bialiatski. He shared the 2022 peace prize with Memorial, a leading Russian human rights group, and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties.
Viasna has so far counted 1,516 political prisoners in Belarus. Human rights defenders say the authorities deliberately create conditions that are unbearable for many of them.
For 28 days, no information has been released on the fate of the incarcerated former presidential hopeful Viktar Babaryka, who was reportedly beaten in his cell and transferred to hospital. No one has heard of Nikolai Statkevicha prominent opposition figure serving a 14-year, 100-day sentence.


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