On January 21, Alexandre Lukashenko met with heads of Belarus’s biggest mass media. BelaPAN director Ales Lipai asked him about political prisoner Ales Bialiatski.
Lipai explained the damage, which the court thinks human rights defender Bialiatski caused to the state, had been compensated by public members. “The damage was compensated from public donations. There were cases in the country that businessman were released after paying bigger compensations. In Russia, Putin recently freed his vigorous opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who caused damage of 500 million dollars, a much bigger sum,” Lipai said.
According to Lukashenka, the issue of amnesty could be considered if the information about the compensation was proved.
Two months have passed, and Nasha Niva newspaper sent a request to Aliaksandr Radzkou: “How did you inform Lukashenka about the compensation of the damage caused by Bialiatski?”
Stanislau Buko, the head of the main department for handling requests from individuals and companies, sent an answer. He assured that “Bialiatski compensated for the damage to the state, which size was established by the court”, and that “the president of Belarus was notified about the issue.”
“In accordance with the current legislation, the fact of compensation of the damage is considered together with other relative circumstances in what concerns pardons or early releases,” the reply says.
On November 24, Minsk’s Pershamaiski district court found Bialiatski guilty of concealing income on a large scale and sentenced him to 4.5 years in a medium security correctional facility and confiscation of property. Bialiatski must pay the state a compensation of 757,526,717 rubles (about $90,000).
The sum was transferred to the Pershamaiski district court by Bialiatski’s wife Natallia Pinchuk on January 18, 2012. The money was raised by public in a hope that it would lead to a softer sentence for the human rights defender. The court ignored this fact.