Belarusian human rights activist Ales Belyackis, one of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners, faces up to 12 years in prison on money smuggling charges, the rights organization announced on Monday. humans “Vyasna” (“Spring”).
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The founder of the organization, Beļackis, and several other Belarusian opposition activists are accused of smuggling “a large amount” of money to finance opposition activities, “Vyasna” reported.
The prosecutor accuses the activists of at least 201 thousand euros and 54 thousand ASV dollars (51,600 euros) of contraband. The money has been used to, among other things, help activists pay fines, they say Belarus prosecutor’s office.
“He faces seven to 12 years in prison,” the organization said.
Human rights defenders said the criminal case had been sent to the court, but the start date of the trial had not yet been announced.
Beliackis, his deputy Valentin Stefanovics and activist Vladimir Labkovic have been in custody since last July. They were initially accused of tax evasion.
They were arrested after widespread protests in 2020 against the regime of dictator Alexander Lukashenko, caused by the falsification of presidential election results.
“Vyasna”, founded by Belyacki in 1996, is one of the best-known Belarusian human rights organizations.
Supporters believe the imprisonment of Beliacka and his associates is a clear attempt to silence them.
Belyackis faced repression for a quarter of a century and spent many years in prison.
On September 25, Belyackis celebrated his 60th birthday in prison. Ten years ago he also spent his 50th birthday in prison.