The Norwegian Helsinki Committee - a major human rights organization - has awarded its annual prize to the head of a human rights group banned in Belarus.
The committee Wednesday gave the 2006 Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award to Aliaksandr Bialiatski, founder of the group Viasna.
The committee says Mr. Bialiatski is a central opposition figure in Belarus and has provided help to what it calls victims of the totalitarian regime. T
he committee calls Viasna a widely recognized source of information about human rights in Belarus.
Belarus officially shut down Viasna in 2003, but it continues to help the opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko. The United States calls him Europe's last dictator because of his suppression of human rights and free speech.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.