Mahiliou: Police Detain 19 US Citizens for English Classes

2007 2007-02-12T10:00:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”


10 US citizens face an administrative penalty for infringement of rules of stay in Belarus. According official reports, they were giving English classes without an official permission of Education Ministry.

The public relations department of the regional police has confirmed that the US citizens were detained on 9 February. A report has been drawn up against them for violation of the Article 185 of the Administrative Code ‘Violation of rules of foreign citizens’ stay in Belarus’ and they were released.

The American citizens have been staying in Mahiliou for about a month. They had been invited for free English seminars by a charity Stephan. A pastor of one of houses of worship in the city had offered premises for the classes.

’The pastor of the church visited America and lived with us. We have become a family for him. We are good friends, and he allowed using the building for free. We have received visas with the help of an organization responsible for such issues. They told we can teach English here,’ one of the American teachers said.

The education department of Mahiliou regional executive committee states that the Americans didn’t have a right to give classes as they didn’t have permission. However an official of the education department confirmed that they had applied for permission.

’However they were recommended to apply to Education Ministry, as this institution is in charge of such issues’, the official said.

As said by the head of the Stephan charity Dzmitry Kantsavenka, the reason for the treatment of American citizens this way was allegedly their religious activities in Mahiliou.

In case Americans would be penalized under the Administrative Code, Dzmitry Kantsavenka is to challenge it. He also plans to appeal against actions of administrative agencies and demand then to stop all administrative proceedings against his guests. Under the Administrative Code, the American citizens face an official warning or a fine.