– We call on Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Ales Byalyatski and to drop the charges against him and against his deputy Valyantsin Stefanovich – announced Catherine Ashotn, head of EU diplomacy and Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
On Wednesday, Belarusian prosecutor demanded five years in a high-security prison camp and property loss for the human rights activist Ales Bialiatski. He is accused of hiding income and large-scale tax evasion.
„We are seriously concerned about the detention and prosecution of internationally renownedBelarusian human rights defender Ales Byalyatski for alleged tax evasion” – wrote Ashton and Füle in their joint statement.
They think that charges against Bialiatski constitute “a politically motivated pretext to target his important work to the benefit of victims of repression. As such, the ongoingtrial is a highly visible and symbolic manifestation of the crackdown on civil society in since the 19 December 2010 Presidential elections.” – stressed the EU officials.
Also, commissioner Füle met with Bialiatski’s family and friends in Belarus. He expressed his concern with the testimonies on use of torture and inhumane treatment of the prisoners and called on the Belarusian authorities to obey international law, especially torture ban and humiliating treatment.
Belarusian authorities claim that Bialiatski has not paid taxes on 560 thousand euro, hidden in his accounts in Poland and Lithuania. According to the human rights center Viasna, which is headed by Bialiatski, the money was used for operating the center and human rights defense, including support to those repressed for political reasons.