Belarus: Statement of the Christian Vision Group Regarding Persecution of Priest Uladzislau Bahamolnikau

. : Belarus

On 31 August 2022, Fr Uladzislau Bahamolnikau, a priest of the Epiphany parish of the Belarusian Orthodox Church in Minsk, a member of the Minsk Eparchial Court, and a philosophy lecturer at the Minsk Theological Academy, was brutally detained. During the detention, officers of GUBOPiK — the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs — broke down the door in his apartment. On 1 September, he was arrested for fourteen days.

Fr Bahamolnikau conducted a funeral service for Raman Bandarenka, a Belarusian activist who attempted to prevent the removal of historical symbols on Pieramien Square in the courtyard of his block of flats. For that, Bandarenka was detained by security forces and died from beating.

Fr Bahamolnikau also went on a hunger strike in support of political prisoner Ihar Losik — a blogger, and freelance consultant for the Belarusian Service of the Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. Losik had been sentenced to fifteen years in a high-security penal colony for his journalist work. The priest attempted to save the life of a starving blogger by joining his protest.

We express solidarity with Fr Uladzislau Bahamolnikau. We call on the authorities to stop pressurising the priest.

We express our resolute disagreement with the arbitrary persecution of Fr Uladzislau Bahamolnikau by law enforcement agencies. We consider such pressure exerted on the priest as a way to intimidate not only him but also all clergy and laity in the Republic of Belarus who speak out about human rights violations, lawlessness and violence in the country. It is also gross interference in the life of religious organisations.

We appeal to the leadership of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, to its Primate Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslaŭje Veniamin (Tupeko), to do everything possible for the immediate release of Fr Uladzislau Bahamolnikau, as well as stop the illegal and unjust persecution of Orthodox priests in Belarus.

We call on the Belarusian and world-Christian community to solidarity with the persecuted Fr Uladzislau Bahamolnikau. Especially we appeal to the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches to raise their voice in defence of the persecuted priest. (Quelle: www.belarus2020.churchby.info, 1. September 2022)

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