In May 2011 the United States Commission on International Religious Freedoms published its annual report (covering 1st April 2010 – 31st March 2011). The Commission placed Belarus on its Watch List.
Here is the Commission’s summary of religious freedom in Belarus:
“The government of Belarus continues to violate its citizens’ freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief in law and practice. Belarus is ruled by an authoritarian regime, with political power concentrated largely in the hands of President Aleksandr Lukashenko and his small circle of advisors. Due to its extensive, intrusive structures to control and restrict religious communities, some human rights groups compare the current religious freedom situation in Belarus to that under Soviet rule. The government has also engaged in other human rights abuses, including strict controls on the media and civil society and imprisonment and maltreatment of political opponents and journalists, particularly after the December 2010 presidential election.
In light of these conditions and violations, the Commission maintains Belarus on its Watch List for 2011. Belarus has been on USCIRF’s Watch List since 2003.
The Belarusian religion law of 2002 is oppressive by European standards, particularly its ban on unregistered religious activity. Active participation in unregistered religious groups may result in a two-year term of imprisonment or heavy court-imposed fines. The government has an extensive bureaucracy that closely supervises religious life throughout the country, and harasses some religious groups, particularly Protestants and others officially viewed as “foreign” or “political.” Conscientious objectors to military service have been detained for terms of several months and fined. Foreign religious workers continue to face many official obstacles, including deportations and visa refusals. Some religious communities were registered under the 2002 law, but many, particularly evangelical Protestant congregations and Orthodox communities that do not accept Moscow Patriarchate jurisdiction, continue to be denied.”