Prominent Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski arrested in Minsk

Ales Bialiatski, the head of Human Rights Center Viasna, a well-known Belarusian dissident and human rights defender, was arrested yesterday on alleged suspicion of ‘concealment of income on an especially large scale’.

Mr Bialiatski was detained near the Victory Square in Minsk and brought to the office of his NGO for a search. His apartment in Minsk and summer house outside the Belarusian capital were also searched. As he managed to tell his colleague Tatsiana Reviaka by phone, he is charged with ‘tax evasion’.

“I think the reason behind these charges is the fact that our organization [Viasna] has been providing different assistance to victims of political repressions in Belarus,” – stated Reviaka, Bialiatski’s colleague at Viasna and the President of the Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius.  

Article 243.2 of the Belarusian Criminal Code “Tax evasion on an especially large scale” provides for an imprisonment for up to seven years and confiscation of property.


Bialiatski has been the Chairperson of the Human Rights Center Viasna since 1998. The NGO was formally closed down by the court decision in 2003, after its active participation in presidential election observation.

Viasna has been repeatedly trying to regain its formal status in Belarus with no success. The international community believes repressions against Viasna and its leaders to be politically motivated. The NGO is a member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and one of the founders of the Belarusian Human Rights House in exile in Lithuania.

Many hundreds of the regime victims have received legal and other kinds of assistance from Viasna in Belarus.

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