November 24, 2011.
A court in Minsk sentenced Bialatski, who heads the Viasna human rights organisation, to a term in a penal colony for “large-scale tax evasion”.
Poland’s Foreign Ministry says that the prison sentence, “is confirmation that the regime in Belarus fails to comply with basic standards of civil rights and freedoms granted by the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.”
“Poland and the European Union appeal to Belarus to immediately release Ales Bialatski and other political prisoners as precondition for the European Union’s dialogue with the Republic of Belarus,” the statement continues.
President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, a former Polish prime minister, said on November 24 that the punishment was “unfair and political”.
Bialatski was arrested in Minsk in August. It emerged that Polish prosecutors had released details of a bank account held in Poland by the human rights activist to Belarusian lawyers.
Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said afterwards: “I apologize on behalf of Poland for this reprehensible mistake, We are going to double our efforts to help democracy in Belarus.”
Head of the international relations department at Poland’s Attorney General’s Office, Krzysztof Karsznicki, was dismissed following the release to Belarus of the sensitive bank details