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Belarusian Catholic Archbishop’s passport is canceled after he criticised government & called recent election ‘not fair’

Belarusian Catholic Archbishop’s passport is canceled after he criticised government & called recent election ‘not fair’
Belarusian authorities have informed Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, head of the country's Catholic Church, that he can't re-enter the country because his passport has been canceled. He has been a vocal critic of the government.

At the end of August, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz of Minsk and Mogilev was turned away at the Belarusian border when coming from Poland, despite being a natural-born citizen of the country he wished to enter. The refusal of Belarus' border guards to let him in directly contravened the country's constitution. Despite not receiving an explanation at the time, the cleric has now been informed that the authorities opted to cancel his passport.

“You were not allowed to cross the state border because of a decision made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to invalidate your passport,” a State Border Committee letter explained.

READ MORE: Religious tension enters Belarus mix? Catholic Archbishop refused entry into country after criticising government on Polish TV

He has asked the ministry to clear up the situation. Following the official refusal to let him into the country, the Belarusian church leader was supported by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who tweeted that the archbishop should be allowed to "tend to his flock during the ongoing protests.”

Just prior to being refused entry, Kondrusiewicz had publicly called the country's controversial presidential election "not fair," and had criticized the Belarusian authorities for their handling of the ensuing demonstrations and protests. According to Kondrusiewicz, "this is a different generation than 26 years ago," and the Belarusian people have now grown to defend their rights.

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Kondrusiewicz was born in 1946, in the Belarusian village of Odelsk, on the border with Poland. Unlike Poland, an overwhelmingly Catholic country, just 17 percent of Belarusians are part of the world's largest Christian church. Kondrusiewicz's trip abroad may have raised eyebrows in Minsk, especially after Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko accused Poland of orchestrating anti-government protests. Kondrusiewicz himself is of Polish descent.

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