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The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion
The right to join together and express one’s belief

BELARUS: "Why should we pay the state .. to pray in our own church?"

Minsk's historical Catholic Red Church parish faces large financial demands from the state for building work it did not agree to and which it cannot afford. It is unclear why this parish is facing these demands, as no other religious community has faced them. City officials refused to explain to Forum 18 the large sums demanded. Catholics in Mogilev, Grodno and Bobruisk have failed to regain ownership of historical churches they use.

BELARUS: Makhalichev "basically free, but still not out of danger"

Vitebsk's Investigation Prison freed Russian Jehovah's Witness Nikolai Makhalichev on 7 April after Belarus' General Prosecutor's Office rejected Russia's extradition request. Russia wishes to punish him for exercising freedom of religion or belief there. Enira Bronitskaya of Human Constanta warns that Makhalichev is "not out of danger". If Belarus rejects his application for refugee status, he could be deported, either back to Russia or to a third country.

BELARUS: Jehovah's Witness fights extradition to Russia

Nikolai Makhalichev, a 35-year-old Russian Jehovah's Witness, is in Investigation Prison in the Belarusian city of Vitebsk as Belarus considers whether to accede to Russia's request for his extradition. Russia is investigating him on two criminal charges carrying up to ten and eight years' imprisonment to punish him for exercising freedom of religion or belief. Jehovah's Witness activity is legal in Belarus.

BELARUS: New possible fines for unapproved worship

On 18 July, criminal punishments for unregistered religious activities, including worship meetings, ended, but were replaced by summary fines of up to five weeks' average wage. "Some church members will be scared and stop coming to worship services or, God forbid, the authorities will impose a restraining order on the church's property," the leader of an unregistered Christian community commented.

BELARUS: "Unaffordable" police fees stop Greek Catholic pilgrimage

Under a Council of Ministers Decree, public events require fees to police, health workers and cleaners. The Interior Ministry later said fees would not apply to religious organisations' events at designated venues, such as churches and cemeteries. However, Greek Catholic leaders cancelled what would have been their 25th annual pilgrimage from Vitebsk to Polotsk in mid-July because of "unaffordable" police fees.

BELARUS: Officials bar priest's return, church's registration

Senior state religious affairs official Leonid Gulyako without explanation rejected pleas from parishioners and the bishop for Polish Catholic priest Pawel Knurek to be allowed to return to work in Belarus. Also, a Minsk Pentecostal Church has been denied registration for the sixth time.

BELARUS: Fined for singing, offering religious literature

Police stopped a Baptist husband and wife from singing and offering Christian literature outside Lepel's market. "We were detained like criminals and brought to the police station," Andrei Fokin stated. A court fined the couple one month's average wages each. Bailiffs are seeking to confiscate property and ban him from driving.

BELARUS: Order not to register new religious communities?

"We want to comply with the law and gather for religious meetings without fear of raids, fines or detentions," says Pastor Vyacheslav Novakovsky of Your Will Be Done Church. A Minsk official involved in the four registration rejections since 2017 told him of "an order from superiors not to register any new communities". She refused to explain this to Forum 18.

BELARUS: State official vetoes foreign Orthodox, Catholic priests

In early June the senior state religious affairs official rejected a request from the Catholic Bishop of Vitebsk for permission for a priest from Poland to replace another who is leaving. Leonid Gulyako has already in 2018 rejected another Polish Catholic priest and two Orthodox priests from Russia.

BELARUS: Maltreated, fined for offering religious literature

The court in Lepel has repeatedly fined local Baptists since mid-October for singing and offering Christian books to passers-by near the town market. After detaining two church members, police injured the face of one and put handcuffs so tightly on another that his hands went numb. Their complaint is with the Investigative Committee.

BELARUS: Priest forced out after 10 years

After 10 years' service as a parish priest Fr Robert Maciejewski was forced to return to his native Poland because Belarus' senior state religious affairs official refused the Catholic bishop's request to extend state permission for him to continue religious work.

BELARUS: State blocks parish priest nomination

Senior state religious affairs official Leonid Gulyako rejects Catholic Bishop's request for Russian priest Fr Klemens Werth to serve in Vitebsk parish, the latest foreign priest refused state permission. Bobruisk officials warn Baptists if further foreigners participate in worship their church will be liquidated.