Update to Response to Information Request BYS18418.E of 22 September 1994 on the current situation of Jews, particularly in the city of Minsk [BYS28789.E]

The United States Department of State Country Reports 1997 states that anti-Semitism is pervasive in Belarus and does not manifest itself openly (1998) According to this source, "Senior Government officials, including the president, and the State media used coded anti-Semitism in their attacks on perceived opponents."

A 16 September 1997 urgent action release issued by the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) denounces the content of a documentary broadcasted by the Belarussian state television that "accuses Jews of murdering a Belarussian child in the seventeenth century."

The attached article from The Jewish Week states that Jews in Belarus anticipate the return of anti-Semitism in a country currently governed by an autocratic president (4 July 1997).

However, an earlier report by the Jewish Telegraph Agency states that the leaders of the 100,000-member Jewish community of Belarus "do not fear any rise of anti-Semitism in Belarus, where ultranationalism and anti-Semitic groups are weak." (9 Apr. 1997)

The UCSJ report entitled Antisemitism in the Former Soviet Union : Report 1995-1997 contains a country report on Belarus which provides information on Jews in Belarus, on prevailing anti-Semitism and on the government response to anti-Semitism (May 1997). It also contains essays on anti-Semitism in Belarus. The report is available at Regional Documentation Centres.

The attached January 1998 UCSJ report entitled Chronicle of Antisemitism in the Former Soviet Union April-December 1997 is an update to the May 1997 UCSJ report and provides details on political extremism and religious persecution in Belarus.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997. 1998. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office [Internet], http://www.state.gov.[Accessed : 16 February 1998].

The Jewish Week [New York]. 4 July 1997. Steve Lipman. "Living Under shadow: Despite a Reawakening of Yiddishkeit, Jews in Belarus Fear Return of Anti-Semitism Under Autocratic President." (The Ethnic New Watch NEXIS)

Jewish Telegraphic Agency [New York] 9 April 1997. Lev Krichevski. "Behind the Headlines: Belarus Jews Remaining Calm Amid Rising Political Turmoil." (The Ethnic New Watch/ NEXIS)

Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, Washington, DC.18 August 1997. "Belarussian TV Revives "Ritual Murder" Charge." (Press Release) [Internet], http://www.jsumonitor.com.[Accessed : 6 February 1998]


The Ethnic New Watch [Stamford, Conn.]. 4 July 1997. Steve Lipman. "Living Under shadow: Despite a Reawakening of Yiddishkeit, Jews in Belarus Fear Return of Anti-Semitism Under Autocratic President." (NEXIS)

Union Council of Soviet Jews (UCSJ). January 1998. Chronicle of Anti-Semitism in the Former Soviet Union: April -December 1997. Washington, DC: Union Council for Soviet Jews.