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Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

For the First Time, Belarus Authorities Arrest One of Jehovah’s Witnesses Persecuted for His Faith in Russia

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area,   Belarus

On February 21, 2020, in the Republic of Belarus, police officers detained Russian citizen Nikolay Makhalichev, 36. Checking his documents, they declared he was wanted by the Russian authorities since he was professing a banned religion. Three days later the prosecutor sent him to pre-trial detention facility SIZO-2 in Vitebsk, Belarus.

A criminal case against Nikolay Makhalichev was opened in Russia on January 31, 2019 by the investigating authorities of the city of Uraya (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug).

While traveling around Belarus, Nikolai Makhalichev was stopped by the police to check his documents. He was told that Russia had put him on the wanted list. The believer ended up in a temporary detention center in the town of Gorodok (Vitebsk region).

On February 24, 2020, the Deputy Prosecutor of the Gorodok District, Junior Counselor of Justice A.N. Zaikin decided to detain Nikolai Makhalichev with serving in SIZO-2 of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Vitebsk Regional Executive Committee. In his ruling, the Belarusian prosecutor, referring to the Russian court, claims that Makhalichev acted "deliberately, motivated by religious intolerance, from extremist motives, expressed in the propaganda of the advantage of followers of the religious teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses over other persons ...", and was also engaged in "confession and dissemination of ideology and faith." It is obvious that the prosecutor copied the text of the charge from the Russian criminal case into his decision.

Given that the Belarusian authorities may extradite him to Russia, Nikolai Makhalichev filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee. Makhalichev considers the decision of the Belarusian prosecutor on detention illegal and will appeal it in the Belarusian court.

Case of Makhalichev in Uray

Case history

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area
Suspected of:
religious affiliation is interpreted as "organizing the activities of an extremist organization" (with reference to a court decision to liquidate the local organization of Jehovah's Witnesses)
Court case number:
January 31, 2019
Current case stage:
Preliminary investigation
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yurga
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)