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Human rights prize given to Belarusian prisoner

September 30, 2013

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — A jailed Belarusian activist has been named the winner of a new human rights prize.

The first 60,000-euro ($81,000) Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize was awarded Monday to Ales Bialiatski, the head of the Vyasna rights group. Bialiatski was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in jail in November 2011 after a trial the West condemned as politically motivated.

The prize was given by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The council is a major human rights organization.

Vyasna has provided legal assistance to thousands of Belarusians who were fined, arrested or imprisoned for challenging President Alexander Lukashenko’s authoritarian policies. Lukashenko has been dubbed “Europe’s last dictator” by some in the West.

Vyasna spokeswoman Tatyana Revyako said the prize could help raise pressure for Bialiatski’s release.

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