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RFE/RL Serializes New Book On Jailed Belarus Rights Advocate Byalyatski

International human rights activists call for Ales Byalyatski's release from prison in this undated photo.
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