One year ago, on August 4, 2011, Belarusian authorities arrested prominent activist Ales Byalyatski
on allegations of tax evasion that have been widely condemned as a politically motivated attack on dissent.
A founder of the country’s first pro-democracy movement, the Belarus Popular Front and head of its most prominent rights group, the Viasna Human Rights Center, Byalyatski was later sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
On the eve of the first International Day of Solidarity
to mark his continued detention, RFE/RL’s Belarus Service
began excerpting on its website a new book by RFE/RL Minsk correspondent Valer Kalinouski, “Справа Бяляцкага” (“The Case of Byalyatski”)
. In the book, Kalinouski takes a close look at Byalyatski's devotion to the struggle for human dignity in Belarus.
National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman wrote the book’s introduction
– an indication of the international human rights community's high regard for Byalyatski's work. Gershman calls Byalyatski a “transformational leader” who places “principle above politics” in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrei Sakharov, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. [read Gershman’s introduction in English here]
The Belarus Service, known locally as Radio Svaboda, will post excerpts from Kalinouski’s book online six days a week for the next several weeks, as part of its “Liberty Library
” program. In September, the service will begin broadcasting the material over the air to its audience in Belarus.
-- JoEllen Koester