Lukashenko critic is being deprived of medicines in prison, woman reports

The wife of a Belarusian Nobel Peace Prize laureate reported this Wednesday that the country’s authorities are depriving her husband of medication as his health condition worsens.

Pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski, 61, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, is serving a 10-year prison sentence. According to his family, he suffers from several serious chronic illnesses that worsened during the three years he was imprisoned.

The family has tried to provide him with medicines, but the Belarusian authorities refuse to provide them, his wife, Natalia Pinchuk, told the Associated Press (AP) news agency.

The Belarusian Interior Ministry did not respond to an AP request for information.

Bialiatski was detained following the mass protests that erupted after the 2020 elections, giving President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term.

The election was widely considered fraudulent by Western leaders and many Belarusians, triggering mass protests in the Eastern European nation.

Lukashenko, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1994.

During the 2020 protests, the largest in Belarusian history, more than 35,000 people were detained and thousands were beaten by police. The repression of dissent continues four years later.

Bialiatski was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, but this did not lead to an improvement in his detention conditions.

In March 2023, a court found Bialiatski and three of his colleagues at the Viasna Human Rights Center guilty of smuggling and financing actions that violate public order.

According to Viasna, there are 1,405 political prisoners behind bars in Belarus.

Human rights activists claim that Belarusian authorities are deliberately creating unbearable conditions for many of them, depriving them of medical care, communication with their loved ones and lawyers. At least six political prisoners have already died behind bars.

Bialiatski is being held in a prison where prisoners are beaten and subjected to forced labor, according to Viasna. He is not authorized to receive correspondence from family and friends, nor to telephone them. Occasionally, his supporters receive letters and postcards from him.

“The authorities have created unbearable conditions for Ales in prison; he is being kept in an information vacuum,” Pinchuk said, adding that the rare letters Bialiatski sends him make it clear that he is not receiving her or other people’s letters.

Pinchuk said Bialiatski had previously been held in solitary confinement and was now forced to perform hard labor. He is often punished by being placed in a punishment cell for several days, he said, adding that his husband goes through “all the circles of hell that thousands of Belarusian political prisoners go through in prison.”

At the beginning of the month, Lukashenko announced an amnesty for the seriously ill, releasing 18 political prisoners, including Ryhor Kastusiou, who suffers from a serious form of cancer.


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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