Who is Viktor Babariko?

Viktor Babariko is a Belarusian banker, philanthropist, public and opposition political figure who intended to become a candidate in 2020 Belarusian presidential election.

The former chief executive of a Russia-owned bank, voluntarily resigned after 19 years of service and aspired to challenge Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, in last year’s disputed election but was arrested 2 months before the August 2020 vote, which drew thousand of protesters to the streets. The detainment is believed to be politically motivated.

Babariko has remained in jail since his arrest and rejected the corruption charges against him as politically driven. However, on Tuesday the Supreme Court in Belarus convicted Babariko of bribery and money laundering. “Viktor Babaryko was sentenced to 14 years in a maximum-security colony,” his supporters said, using the 57-year-old’s Twitter account.

In addition to the lengthy jail sentence, he was also ordered to pay back 46 million Belarusian roubles (€15 million) in damages, fined an additional €45,000, and banned from holding leadership positions, according to the human rights NGO Viasna. He will not be able to appeal the Supreme Court verdict.

Viktor Babariko is a well known philanthropist. In 2008, he became one of the founders of the International Children’s Charity Foundation “Chance”. The Foundation has been providing charity support to seriously ill children.

Also, In 2018, on the initiative of Babariko, Belgazprombank financed the publication of 15,000 copies of Svetlana Alexievich’s five-volume edition and donated them to Belarusian libraries. Likewise, he came up with a proposal to create an art-space OK16 organising exhibitions and theatrical performances.

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