Fears grow for Nobel peace laureate Ales Bialiatski imprisoned in Belarus

MINSK - Concerns have been raised over the safety of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, who has not been heard from in over a month, according to a friend. Bialiatski is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Belarus, where he was jailed in 2021 amid mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s government. “We lost any contact,” his friend and fellow activist Franak Viacorka, who is also Senior Advisor to exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, told CNN on Thursday, adding that Bialiatski may have been transferred to one of the harshest prisons in Belarus. “We’ll try to find out what is happening to him and if he is alive,” he said. Viacorka was reacting to an Associated Press interview with Bialiatski’s wife Natalia Pinchuk published on Wednesday. Pinchuck told The AP her husband had been in “an information blackout” since he was moved to a “colony for repeat offenders” in Gorki. “The authorities create unbearable conditions for Ales and keep him in strict informational isolation. There is not a single letter from him for a month, nor does he receive my letters,” Pinchuk told The AP by phone. CNN has reached out to Viasna, an organization founded by Bialiatski, and to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry for additional comment. Tsikhanouskaya also urged the international community to take action, saying Bialiatski’s treatment by Belarusian authorities is “inhumane.” “The ongoing inhuman treatment of Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski and other political prisoners in Belarus can’t be tolerated,” Tsikhanouskaya said in a Twitter post. “Many of the strongest voices for freedom have fallen silent. So we have to be even louder. 

The international community must act now!” Bialiatski won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 alongside human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine. 

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