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Nobel laureate Ales Beliatski sentenced to 10 years in prison by Belarusian court

Nobel laureate Ales Beliatski sentenced to 10 years in prison by Belarusian court
CNN  —  Belarusian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Beliatski was sentenced by a court in Minsk on Friday to 10 years in a maximum-security penal colony, Russia state news agency TASS reports. He was found guilty on the charge of smuggling, according to TASS.

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya slammed the sentencing of Bialiatski and other activists in the same trial as “appalling.”

“We must do everything to fight against this shameful injustice & free them,” she wrote on Twitter.

Bialiatski, a pro-democracy activist, has documented human rights abuses in Belarus since the 1980s. He founded the organization Viasna, or Spring, in 1996 after a referendum that consolidated the authoritarian powers of the president and close Russian ally, President Alexander Lukashenko.

The activist was arrested in 2020 amid widespread protests against Lukashenko’s regime.

Bialiatski won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 alongside human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine.

The new laureates were honored for “an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses, and the abuse of power” in their respective countries. “They have for many years promoted the right to criticize power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said at the time.

Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya congratulated Bialiatski. “The prize is an important recognition for all Belarusians fighting for freedom & democracy,” she wrote in a tweet three years ago. “All political prisoners must be released without delay.”

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