BELARUS: No extradition of a Jehovah’s Witness to Russia
– Russian News Service (08.04.2020) – https://bit.ly/2VmVyOo – Nikolai Makhalichev was released on 7 April, BelaPAN was told by the coordinator of action for defense of human rights of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship of the organization Human Constanta, Enira Bronitskaia.
She said that Makhalichev plans to get the status of a refugee in Belarus, for which he applied on the day of his arrest, 21 February 2020, in Gorodok (Vitebsk oblast).
Bronitskaia reported that the man was arrested because he was on an international wanted list at Russia’s request. Mikhalichev was put into SIZO No. 2 in Vitebsk, where he spent more than 40 days, and documents were requested from Russian law enforcement agencies, on the basis of which the office of prosecutor general of Belarus made its decision.
As the representative of Human Constanta noted, Makhalichev maintains that he did not know about the opening in January 2019 of a criminal case against him for arranging and financing the activity of an extremist organization, which the Jehovah’s Witnesses were ruled to be, back in 2017. In Russia, Makhalichev would face a trial and imprisonment of up to 15 years.
Since 2017, more than100 adherents of the community have been convicted in various regions. In Belarus, one religious association of Jehovah’s Witnesses and 27 congregations are registered with the commissioner for affairs of religions and nationalities. They conduct their congresses in the country without hindrance.