Devotees arrested in Belarus

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Three Hare Krishna devotees, Aleksandr Grankin, Aleksei Vlasyuk and Pavel Ivanov, were detained in the streets of Vitebsk on 17 June for sharing their religious views and offering religious literature to passers-by, they complained to Forum 18. The three were detained by Sergei Fadeenkov, the Chief Specialist of Vitebsk Regional Executive Committee Department of Religious Affairs and Nationalities.

Vlasyuk and Ivanov happened to be distributing literature outside the building of the State Control Committee (a state monitoring agency) when Fadeenkov and an unidentified companion dragged Vlasyuk by force into the building. Vlasyuk complained that he did not understand what was going on. “Later I found out that it was religious affairs official Fadeenkov. He ignored all my questions and refused to give any explanations,” he lamented to Forum 18 from his home city of Mogilev on 26 June. 

According to Vlasyuk, his friend and follow devotee Ivanov was detained after he came into the State Control Committee building looking for him. Both devotees’ books were confiscated and they were held inside the building against their will until the police were summoned.

Ivanov complained that Fadeenkov forced him to go to a deserted place, where he confiscated ten of his books.
The police were then summoned and officers took Ivanov and Vlasyuk to Vitebsk’s Oktyabrsky District Police Station. There they were detained for five hours and released after identity verification without the preparation of any cases against them.
Vlasyuk told Forum 18 that they were slightly threatened in the police station. “It’s always the same with the police – they try to provoke you to make some confession, saying that they could imprison you.” 

Grankin said Fadeenkov found him on the street as he was explaining to people the devotees’ way of life and offering books as a present to those who wanted to know more. “Fadeenkov showed no interest either in Vedantic knowledge about healthy food, or in the philosophy of the eastern religion of Gaudiya Vaishnavism,” Grankin complained to Forum 18 from his home city of Polotsk on 25 June. “Yet he confiscated four books, though he returned two of them later.”

Fadeenkov angrily accused Grankin of violating the law and ignored all his requests to return the books he had seized. “I was lucky as I was not taken to the police station like my fellow devotees,” Grankin explained to Forum 18.

Following intervention later by another Hare Krishna devotee, Fadeenkov returned several more of the confiscated books.
Published by Forum 18 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2077

Forum 18 provides original reporting and analysis on violations of freedom of thought, conscience and belief of all people in an objective, truthful and timely manner. We focus on Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Russia and Belarus, as well as publishing analyses on Turkey and China.

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