Washington biased in its assessment of religious freedom in Belarus - Byelorussian Foreign Ministry

Minsk, February 14, Interfax - The US State Department's report on religious freedom in the world in 2006 is 'mostly biased and contradictory' as far as it concerns Belarus, Andrey Popov, press secretary of the Byelorussian Foreign Ministry, has stated.

'The report cites facts which are either out of date or little significant for a description of the religious life in the republic, while hushing up positive tendencies in the area of freedom of religion in Belarus', Popov told Interfax.

He also said that in using the official data given by Byelorussian governmental bodies the State Department continues 'to be selective, which does not contribute to an objective analysis of religious freedom in the country'.

'The biased nature of the assessments given to religious life in our country and rejection of the information unfit for the authors point to disdain for the historical traditions of the Byelorussian people as well as attempts to impose their own vision of religious freedom', Popov said.

At the same time, he added, unlike the previous reports, which ascertained an aggravation in the situation concerning religious freedom in Belarus, the 2006 report recognized an improvement in this area including in the attitude to the Roman Catholic Church.

The Byelorussian Foreign Ministry expressed hope that in drafting similar reports in the future the US State Department would refrain from 'ungrounded assessments and conclusions, relying rather on official information and considering obvious positive tendencies in the religious freedom including the state's efforts to establish constructive cooperation with religious organizations in Belarus'.