On August 22, 500 rabbis from 30 European countries left Russia’s Smolensk for the Belarusian town of Lyozna to say a communal prayer and visit the memorial Adamenki Hill.
However, they were stopped by the officers of the Border Service of Russia’s FSB in Smolensk region.
“Since most of the delegation members are foreigners – neither Belarusians nor Russians – they are not subject to the provisions on border crossing by citizens of the Union State. Therefore, they can get to Belarus from Russia only through international checkpoints,” the Russian special services believe.
“Moreover, the best part of the delegates do not have Belarusian visas. If they arrived in Belarus through international crossing points, or, for example, came to the National airport ‘Minsk’, they could get permission to enter the country there. But there are no visa-granting points at the Russia-Belarus border points do not issue visas,” Anton Bychkouski, spokesman of the State Border Committee of Belarus, said.
Meanwhile, Belarus president Alyaksandr Lukashenka sent greetings to the participants of the conference.
“Having rich moral traditions and values, the Belarusian state and society cherish the principles of tolerance and openness to dialogue. We have accumulated unique experience of preserving and supporting interreligious peace and accord, and we are by right proud of it,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes him as saying.
Belarus is a comfortable home for people of different nationalities and religions, Lukashenka stressed.
The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) is being held in Moscow on August 18-26. The CER is the primary Orthodox rabbinical alliance in Europe. It unites more than 700 religious leaders of the mainstream synagogue communities in Europe. It was founded in 1956 on the initiative of British Chief Rabbi Sir Israel Brodie, in order to revive the vanquished Jewish communities on the European mainland.