Bialiatski, a nobel peace prize-winning human rights activist, is on trial in belarus. he is accused of smuggling cash to fund opposition activity and faces up to 12 years in prison. mr bialiatski set up viasna in 1996 and was jailed for three years in 2011 after being convicted on tax evasion charges, which he denied. alexander lukashenko has been president of belarus since the office was established in 1994 and rules with an iron fist.
Trial began following massive street protests over widely disputed elections that kept alexander lukashenko in power. demonstrators were met with brutality by the police during the protests, which started in 2020. mr bialiatski was arrested in 2021 and has been held without trial since then. he is now in court alongside two fellow campaigners and photos have been tweeted by viasna that appear to show mr bialiatski in the courtroom.
Head of the norwegian nobel committee said when awarding the 2022 prize that “government authorities have repeatedly sought to silence” mr bialiatski. he wrote on his facebook page shortly before his arrest that the belarusian authorities “are acting as a regime of occupation”. alexander lukashenko has allowed russia to send troops to belarus and has been sanctioned for his role in the invasion. mr bialiatski’s trial is seen as a way for the belarusian authorities to silence him and his opposition activity.