Conditions of detention

After his arrest in August 2011 and his sentencing to four and a half years of imprisonment in severe detention regime, Ales Bialiatski, President of HRC Viasna and Vice-President of FIDH, was transferred to a penal colony in Bobruisk, in February 2012. His conditions of detention are harsh: he works 6 days a week doing routine manial work and is isolated even within the camp itself, with his fellow prisoners unable to talk to him under a threat of a punishment. Several short and long personal meetings with his wife have been cancelled as a punishment. He is regularly deprived of his right to food parcels and repeated fabricated allegations that he has committed “regime violations” suffocate all hope of his anticipated release or possible amnesty. In spite of this, Ales Bialiatski maintains a positive attitude and continues to write intensively. Two books have been transmitted by him through letters and published since in detention.

Please see the below articles on conditions of detention and recent news from Ales Bialiatski:

Ales Bialiatski : Belarus should be a country without political prisoners

On June 23, the Minsk office of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”  hosted a press conference of the organization’s leader and vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights, Ales Bialiatski, who was released on Saturday after almost three years of arbitrary detention. The political prisoner was released from penal colony No. 2 in Babruisk on June 21, after a bill on amnesty entered into force.

“To serve time in prison term for a democratic, independent Belarus – it is normal,” Ales Bialiatski said in the beginning of the press-conference. He crossed out his name on the T-shirt with the list of Belarusian political prisoners.

bialiatski-released-pressconf bialiatski-released-pressconf-minsk

Photos by Siarhei Hudzilin,

“We should not fear pressure and crackdown...

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First interview of released political prisoner Ales Bialiatski


The head of “Viasna” human rights centre, Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights Ales Bialiatski was amnestied and released on June 21. He has spent almost three years in the colony on rigged charges.

On Minsk railway station the former prisoner of conscience was welcomed by his wife, colleagues, friends, concerned citizens. Many of them were crying, as it was hard to believe that Bialiatski is free at last.

When Ales Bialiatski returned home, he gave an interview to the editor-in-chief of website Natalya Radzina.

- Ales, our congratulations! People across Belarus and all over the world rejoice at your release. Lukashenka has signed the amnesty law today, and you are free at once...

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Ales Bialiatski released!


Prominent Belarusian human rights activist, Vice-President of FIDH and President of Human Rights Centre “Viasna”,  Ales Bialiatski has arrived in Minsk after he was released from prison.

He was welcomed at a Minsk train station by his wife Natalya Pinchuk, his collegues, friends and journalists.

Ales Bialiatski told reporters he was released under an amnesty law that came into force on June 21.

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Open letter to the UN Human Rights Committee by Natalia Pinchuk and Antoine Bernard

Antoine Bernard, Chief Executive Officer of FIDH, and Natalia Pinchuk, Ales Bialiatski’s wife, the authors of an individual submission made two years ago on behalf of Ales Bialiatski, President of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in Belarus and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), have submitted an open letter to the UN Human Rights Committee requesting the Committee to give urgent priority to examining this complaint.

Valentin Stefanovich, Vice-President of HRC “Viasna”, commented that “The submission on behalf of Ales Bialiatski regarding his wrongful imprisonment resulting from a violation of his rights was submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee on 12 April 2012. This submission stated that Mr...

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“Mercuric Silver of Life” – new book by Ales Bialiatski


The new book of essays was written by Ales Bialiatski in prison and is dedicated to events of 2010 – 2011 in Belarus.

The book includes memoirs, reflections and meditations, as well as describes daily routine and events that preceded the arrest of the human rights defender. The title of the book is quite metaphoric as the author tried to convey changeability and dangerous attraction, a kind of coldness of life.

“It is easy to write about the events of 2010 – 2011 because they seem to have imprinted well in my memory, but it is hard as well because time inexorably destroys freshness of emotions, hundreds and thousands of tiny details which create the multicolor picture of life...

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Ales Bialiatski: 1000 Days in Prison


Ales Bialiatski, head of the Human Rights Center Viasna and vice president of FIDH, has spent 1000 days behind bars.

His wife, Natalya Pinchuk, mentioned it in an interview she gave to Gennady Barbarych, a correspondent for Radio Racyja.  This is quite a sad day. We also tried to guess how many days he’s been alive overall. It worked out to 18,800 days. So out of these 18,000 days, he has spent 1,000 days living under difficult conditions in prison”.

- RR: Is there any news from Ales? What is his emotional and physical state?

-Natalya Pinchuk: As far as any news from Ales himself is concerned, it can be quite hard to receive any specific information. He usually says that everything is fine...

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Belarusian president learns that Ales Bialiatski compensated for damage two years ago


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 A...

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Political prisoner Ales Bialiatski sends greetings to Baranavichy human rights defenders and civil society activists


Political prisoner Ales Bialiatski sent color postcards and congratulated Baranavichy human rights defenders Viachaslau Bolbat and Siarhei Housha and social activists Henadz Artsymenia, Anzhalika Kambalava and Viktar Syrytsa on the New Year and Christmas.

This is the answer of Ales Bialiatski to our New Year’s greetings we have sent to him and all political prisoners on December 21. We wished him a good health, optimism , happiness, faith in a better future and hope that soon “the sun will peep in his window”. We also expressed the hope in our Christmas cards that the dream of all political prisoners for release will come true in the new year,” said Mr. Syrytsa.

In its response Ales Bialiatski thanked for moral support...

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Ales Bialiatski: Two years since politically motivated verdict

Photo by Yulia Darashkevich

Two years ago, on November 24, 2011, the Court of Minsk’s Pershamaiski district convicted Ales Bialiatski, the leader of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights. According to the verdict, Ales Bialiatski was found guilty of committing a crime under Part 2 of Art. 243 of the Criminal Code (tax evasion on a large scale) and was sentenced to imprisonment in a high security penal colony for a period of 4.5 years and a confiscation of property.

The Human Rights Center “Viasna“, as well as the leading international human rights organizations, viewed the verdict as politically motivated, as it was aimed at sanctioning the legitimate human rights activities of Ales Bialiatski and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in general.

The senten...

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Ales Bialiatski earns about $2 a month working six days a week

Ales Bialiatski

Ales Bialiatski earns about 20,000 rubles (about 2$), and can spend just about 130,000 rubles (about 13$) in the prison shop.

According to the political prisoner’s wife, Natallia Pinchuk, Ales Bialiatski works 6 days a week and earns about 20,000 rubles. He works as a wrapper at sewing industry, packing a variety of products.

He earns about 20,000 rubles. His work is associated with the garment industry, he wraps the goods. Mattresses, gloves and work clothes are produced there. I don’t know exactly how long his working day is, but I remember the words of the head of the penitentiary that it doesn’t exceed the legal limit,” said Natallia Pinchuk.

According to her, Mr. Bialiatski can spend just 130,000 rubles a month in the prison shop. “I know he buys cheese, cookies and something swe...

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