Rev. ULADZISLAU BAHAMOLNIKAU, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

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Rev. Uladzislau Bahamolnikau

A clergyman of the Epiphany parish of the Belarusian Orthodox Church in Minsk, a member of the Minsk Eparchial Court, and a philosophy lecturer at the Minsk Theological Academy.

On 31 August, he was brutally detained. During the detention, officers of GUBOPiK — the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs — broke down the door in his apartment and searched it. On 1 September, he was arrested for fourteen days. Pro-regime Telegram channels reported that the priest could face criminal prosecution under art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code (Founding of an extremist formation or participation in it), which is punishable with restriction of liberty for up to five years or imprisonment for three to seven years. If a criminal prosecution is not applied, Rev Bahamolnikau is facing rolling administrative arrests for more than four months. State propaganda publications also alleged — without providing any evidence — that the priest could be prosecuted for raising money for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Christian Vision group issued a statement in support of Rev Uladzislau Bahamolnikau.

Since 31 August, the priest has not been released; he spent seven rolling administrative arrests of 100 days in total. From the former cellmates of Bahamolnikau, it is known that the conditions of detention in the isolator were torturous, inhuman, and humiliating the dignity: overcrowded — the number of inmates is several times higher than the capacity — cell; ban on all types of parcels, including clothing, hygiene, medicines and vitamins, correspondence; poor heating and ventilation, electric lights on around the clock; absence of the equipped sleeping places, mattresses, and bedding. All prisoners are forced to sleep on the floor wrapped in clothes which they had at the point of detention. Bahamolnikau suffered from coronavirus and bacterial pulmonary infections, he has persistent heavy coughing. According to the people who were incarcerated with him in the same cell, the priest may have the signs of scurvy due to a lack of vitamins. Insufficient nutrition and illness led to serious weight loss. At the same time, access to the necessary medical care and medication is not provided. The Christian Vision group issued a statement regarding the persecution of the priest and the torture used against him at the Akrescina detention centre.

On 9 December, a criminal case was started against Rev Bahamolnikau under art. 342 of the Criminal Code; he was taken into custody. On 19 December 2022, he was released on bail.