Belarus says no to Jehovah’s Witness’s extradition to Russia
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus has refused to extradite a Jehovah’s Witnesses follower, Nikolai Makhalichev, to Russia. He was released from custody, human rights organization Human Constanta said on Facebook.
A Russian national and member of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group, Makhalichev has spent 40 days in custody in Belarus. Human rights activists hope that the Belarusian authorities will give the Russian a refugee status or asylum, after which he will be able to live in safety.
Nikolai Makhalichev, 36, was detained on February 21 in the town of Haradok, Viciebsk region. He was told that Russia had put him on an interstate wanted list because he belonged to a banned religious community.
Three days later, deputy district prosecutor sent the Jehovah’s Witness to the Viciebsk detention center.
Both Belarusian and international human rights organizations called on the Belarusian authorities not to extradite Makhalichev to Russia, where they feared he could be subjected to torture and ill-treatment.
Jehovah’s Witnesses face persecution in Russia after their organization was arbitrarily banned as “extremist” in April 2017.