Strasbourg, 24.11.2011 – The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting today in Edinburgh, expressed its consternation at the harsh sentence handed down today on Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski by the Pervomaiski District Court of Minsk. Mr Bialiatski was sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment under a strict regime, confiscation of property and a fine for “concealment of profits on an especially large scale in pursuance of prior agreements” under Article 243, paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code.
The Bureau considers that this latest sentence on the basis of falsely constructed and politically motivated charges epitomises the continuing systematic crackdown by the authorities in Minsk on members of the opposition, independent media, civil society activists and human rights defenders in Belarus. Such action is unacceptable and intolerable, and confirms a worrying trend that the authorities in Minsk are deliberately turning their back on Europe and the values it upholds.
The Bureau demands that the authorities in Minsk release all political prisoners, including Mr Bialiatski, and guarantee human rights and political freedoms.
The Bureau recalls that Mr Bialiatski was invited for an exchange of views on the situation in Belarus by the Political Affairs Committee during the 2011 April part-session and that the Assembly will further debate the situation in Belarus during its January 2012 part-session.