Ales Bialiatski may receive Lithuanian Freedom Prize

Lithuanian civil society activists are discussing the possibility of awarding the Belarusian political prisoner, human rights defender Ales Bialiatski the Freedom Prize.

This is reported by the Lithuanian media, in particular

The proposal was voiced by the Foundation for the Support of Civil Defense and the Society of Belarusian Culture in Lithuania.

“Ales Bialiatski’s fearless and consistent position for the protection of human rights in Belarus has been repeatedly assessed throughout the world by awarding him various prizes,” say the above organizations.

They also emphasized that the Belarusian human rights organization “Viasna”, which has been headed by Bialiatski since 1996, is one of the main organizations for the protection of human rights in Belarus, which provides legal and other assistance to victims of political repression and their families.

The attached description of Bialiatski says that since 1988 he has been for more than 20 times arrested because of his political and civic activities.

After Bialiatski was detained in Minsk in early August 2011, he was sentenced to 4.5 years of imprisonment, having been found guilty of failing to pay taxes on funds that were in his accounts in foreign banks. These funds were used by Bialiatski to help the victims of repression, but they could not be officially registered as the accounts of the organization in Belarus.

Data on Bialiatski’s accounts was provided by the Polish Prosecutor’s Office and the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice. Vilnius and Warsaw later acknowledged the move a mistake and apologized to the relatives of Bialiatski.

The Freedom Prize is awarded to assess the deeds of individuals and their contribution to the protection of human rights, democratic development, the promotion of international cooperation in the struggle for the freedom of self-determination and sovereignty of the peoples of Eastern and Central Europe.

The award was founded by the Lithuanian Seimas on September 15, 2011 and amounts to 5,000 Euros (17,250 Litas).

The first prize was awarded to the active advocate of freedom and democracy, human rights defender, Russian dissident Sergei Kovalev. The 2012 Award went to former dissident of the Soviet regime, head of the Lithuanian Freedom League Antanas Terleckas.

The award is presented annually to mark the Freedom Defenders Day on 13 January.

Other political prisoners