Hrodna Authorities Fear Inter-religious Conflicts
In 2007 the authorities of Hrodna oblast registered only one religious community of Baptist Christians. Several dozens of other religious communities have been denied registration for different reasons.
Hrodna oblast is the only oblast in Belarus where the number of the religious communities that have the state registration stays almost the same. For instance, in 2006-2007 there were registered 117 communities belonging to different confessions, but only five of them were registered in Hrodna oblast. The lawyer and human rights activist Dzina Shautosva believes that the reason of this stability is the reluctance of the local authorities to recognize the believers’ rights.
The authorities, in their turn, explain the refusals by saying that growth of the number of religious communities in Hrodna oblast can result in activation of sects and lead to fomenting of inter-religious conflicts.
At present 477 religious organizations of 17 confessions have official registration on the territory of Hrodna oblast. 184 of them are Orthodox Christian, 170 – Catholic Christian, 2 Uniate Christuian, 8 Moslem, 3 Jewish, 83 Protestant and 1 of Krishna Conscience. Religious services are conducted by more than 460 clergymen.