President welcomes the release of Ales Bialiatski

Today, Ales Bialiatski, a prominent Belarusian human rights defender who became the first laureate of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize in 2013, was released from prison after spending almost three years behind bars.

“For many years Ales Bialiatski has been a committed partner of the Assembly, who shared with our members his expertise and restlessly fought for human rights in Belarus. His imprisonment in 2011 came as a shock, and we have never missed an occasion to demand his unconditional release”, said Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“I am happy to see Ales Bialiatski free; I congratulate from all my heart his family and his colleagues from Viasna and the FIDH. I truly believe that the day will come when there will be no political prisoners left – in Belarus or elsewhere. We will work hard to bring this day closer.”

Ales Bialiatski, President of the Belarusian Human Rights Centre Viasna and Vice-President of the FIDH, was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment in August 2011 for alleged tax evasion. PACE, other bodies of the Council of Europe, the EU and major international NGOs considered this trial as politically motivated. In September 2013 the Assembly awarded to Mr Ales Bialiatski the first Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize.


News of Belarus

Tough sentences announced to Brest antifascists

A verdict was delivered today in the case of Brest antifascists acused of participation in a group fight with neonazis which happened on May 8, 2013.

Antifascists were tried under the art. 339.3 (malicious group hooliganism) and 147.2 (malicious bodily harm). The case was qualified as malicious due to the fact of pepper spray usage in the fight.

Dzmitry Stsyashenka got 5 years of penal colony with reinforced regime (339.3) and 500 euro of damages to be paid to the injured nazis.

Exclusive: European Union moves to suspend sanctions on Belarus

The European Union is likely to lift some sanctions on Belarus, including its travel ban on President Alexander Lukashenko, after he freed a group of political prisoners last month, diplomatic sources say.

An arms embargo against the former Soviet republic would remain. But in an overture to the man the West calls Europe's "last dictator", diplomats are looking at suspending visa bans and asset freezes on most of around 200 people under sanctions for rights abuses, some since disputed elections in 2004.