Diploma «For Freedom of Expression» is awarded by the Norwegian Authors´ Union (“Den norske Forfatterforening”) for a considerable contribution to the protection of freedom of expression and tolerance. Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Israeli author and journalist Amos Oz, writer Dawit Isaak from Erithrea and other outstanding people who distinguished themselves in their fight for the right of expression in their home countries became awardees of the prize.
As Ales Bialiatski’s wife informed journalists, the award ceremony took place in Oslo on March 25, 2012. «I got the diploma on behalf of Ales. It was rather unexpectable; I had not prepared for the ceremony. I think it will be a great surprise for my husband,» Natallia Pinchuk said.
Ales Bialiatski, the head of human rights centre «Viasna» shut down by the Belarusian authorities and the vice-president of FIDH (International Federation of Human Rights Defenders), has been in jail since August 4, 2011. The fact of Ales Bialiatski’s holding of bank accounts in Poland and Lithuania gave the grounds for criminal prosecution. The cash standing to the credit of accounts was used for human rights defence activity. Opening accounts in Belarus turned out to be impossible since the Belarusian authorities repeatedly denied an official registration to Viasna human rights center.
Ales Bialiatski was accused of large-scale tax evasion based on documents handed to the Belarusian prosecution by Polish and Lithuanian officials and sentenced to 4.5-year confinement in a high-security prison and confiscation of property. Moreover, Bialiatski had to pay 721 million rubles of the compensation for financial damage allegedly caused on the state, and 36 million rubles of the court expenditures (appr. $ 90,000 in total). Due to donations the necessary amount of money was raised.
At the current moment Ales Bialiatski is kept in Babruysk penal colony №2.