Seven reprimands have been issued to human rights defender Ales Byalyatski in the seven months since his transfer to Correctional Institution No. 2 in Babruysk, Mahilyow region, his associate Valyantsin Stefanovich told BelaPAN.
Punished for sleeping
"I have recently received three letters at once from Byalyatski,"Mr. Stefanovich told BelaPAN. "He writes that media reports of his disciplinary confinement were not unfounded. He has recently been given a reprimand for allegedly sleeping at an inappropriate time. In fact, Byalyatski was meditating. On September 19, he was taken to the medical unit for a health examination. This is always done to make sure the inmate is physically fit for disciplinary confinement."
Nuncio stops the punishement
However, the prison administration obviously decided against placing Mr. Byalyatski in a disciplinary cell after Apostolic Nuncio Claudio Gugerotti expressed an intention to visit him on September 25.
Mr. Byalyatski writes that he has recently celebrated not only his 50th birthday but also the completion of one-fourth of his prison term.
"He remains virtually isolated from the outside world as a 'persistent violator of prison rules,'" Mr. Stefanovich said.
Ales Byalyatski, chairman of a Belarusian human rights organization called Vyasna (Spring) and vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights, was arrested in Minsk on August 4, 2011.
On November 24, 2011, he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on a charge of large-scale tax evasion. The charge stemmed from information about his bank accounts abroad, which was thoughtlessly provided by authorities in Lithuania and Poland under interstate legal assistance agreements. During his trial, Mr. Byalyatski insisted that the money transferred by various foundations to his bank accounts abroad had been intended to finance Vyasna's activities and therefore could not be viewed as his income subject to taxation.