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Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

The BOC, in particular the Minsk-based parish of the Feast of the Presentation of Blessed Virgin, continued its annual commemoration honoring Hauryil Belastoksky, a child allegedly killed by Jews near Hrodna in 1690, as one of its saints and martyrs. Jewish community leaders again expressed concern over the memorial prayer recited on the anniversary of Belastoksky’s death on May 3, the text of which included a passage stating the “martyred and courageous Hauryil exposed Jewish dishonesty.”

In Valozhyn in May unknown individuals vandalized a memorial honoring 800 local Jews killed in 1942 near the town of Ivianets. Part of the plaque was broken and a swastika was painted on the fence of the memorial. On May 25, authorities in Valozhyn opened a criminal case, but the investigation yielded no developments as of the end of the year.

On July 9, Minsk Jewish community members reported they saw yellow paint on sculptures at the Holocaust memorial called “Yama” (the Pit) dedicated to the Minsk ghetto victims. Authorities opened an investigation after appeals from the National Union of Jewish Communities and Organizations but as of the end of the year, they had no developments to report.

On November 19, local Jewish activists reported unidentified vandals had sprayed black paint on a monument commemorating thousands of Jews killed by Nazis in the local ghetto during the Holocaust in Mahilyou. Police opened a criminal case and on November 22 detained four individuals, who reportedly expressed Nazi ideas and belonged to a local skinhead group. Police identified and charged four suspects. The case remained under investigation as of the end of the year.

In November unidentified individuals painted a swastika on the plaque of a memorial, located on the site of the former Jewish ghetto in central Pinsk, honoring Jewish victims of the Holocaust as well as commemorating the killing of the Roma, partisans, and underground fighters by the Nazis during World War II. On November 30, the Pinsk police opened an investigation into the vandalism of the memorial. There was no information available on the status of the investigation as of the end of the year.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future