Imprisoned human rights defender Bialiatski penalised for the third time
Ales Bialiatski (right), Head of the Belarusian human rights center “Viasna” who is now serving a 4.5-year sentence in Babruisk colony, has been transferred to the category of "persistent violators". This raises doubts that he might be released as a result of the 3 July amnesty.
Sunday, 17 June 2012, by Belarusian HRH based on svaboda.org
Ales Bialiatski informed about his “new status” in his letter from Babruisk colony: "Yesterday I got penalised for the third time this year. I received the first penalty while in quarantine - for wearing non-uniform shoes. This was one day before I was transferred to the unit, on 21 March. The second penalty I got the day before the meeting with my wife, on 16 May, for not wearing an identification badge in the sewing shop [the colony workshop where Bialiatski is forced to work]. And the third one, imposed on 2 June, was for sleeping in the section before lunch.
As a result, I was deprived of the right to a long-term meeting provided by the Criminal Executive Code. Also starting from the next month my purchases from the prison store are limited to 100,000 roubles (EUR 9.55). And I used to have a 500,000 limit (EUR 47.75). And most likely, although it is too early to speak about it, the amnesty won’t concern me as a 'persistent violator'".
In the letters to his wife Natallia Pinchuk, Bialiatski informs about the pressure on part of the prison administration.
"They create a rather dire situation in the moral and psychological terms for him, and the reduction of his financial income deprives him of the opportunity to buy additional foodstuffs. This will affect the state of his health. In regard to his physical condition, of course, he does not complain, but sometimes some indirect evidence suggests that not everything is alright and his health is deteriorating. The penalties and punishments cross out the hopes for amnesty”, said Natallia Pinchuk.
Bialiatski also writes about his refusal to join Inmate Amateur Talent Associations: "According to the Criminal Executive Code, prisoners might join IATA on a voluntary basis. So, considering this voluntary entrance, I did not join this group, because I am already a member of many organisations and associations, including BAJ, FIDH, the Union of Belarusian Writers, the Belarusian Language Society and Belarusian PEN-Centre, so joining IATA would be too much for me".
Bialiatski's supervisory appeal rejected
On 24 January the Minsk City Court upheld the sentence of Ales Bialiatski to imprisonment for a 4.5-year term of intensive regime with confiscation of property for "concealment of income on a large scale" (Article 243, Part 2 of the Criminal Code), imposed on 24 November 2011. The sentence was left unchanged, despite the fact that Bialiatski’s lawyers produced the receipt about the transfer of funds to pay for the damage allegedly caused to the State by A. Bialiatski with his actions (757 526 717 Belarusian roubles, about EUR 70,000).
In early April, Ales Bialiatski wrote that on 29 March the court decided to charge the him with a fine exceeding 140 million roubles - for allegedly delayed payment for the damage. Neither Ales Bialiatski's colleagues nor his family knew about this new lawsuit - the court decision was sent by Bialiatski to his wife Natallia Pinchuk by mail. The trial was held in the absence of Bialiatski, and the court decision stated: "The defendant did not appear before the court. He is now imprisoned, but was duly notified about the date and time of the trial".
The criminal case against Ales Bialiatski was based on information on accounts owned by Bialiatski in foreign banks for the activities of HRC "Viasna". This information was provided to the Belarusian authorities by the Ministry of Justice of Lithuania and the Prosecutor General of Poland. Belarusian authorities regarded the money kept on Bialiatski’s accounts as his personal income, and accused him of concealing assets. EU, U.S. and international human rights groups consider Bialiatski a political prisoner and his sentence to be politically motivated. They demand from the Belarusian authorities to release the human rights defender.
Belarusian HRH based on svaboda.org