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Religious authorities in a number of post-Soviet states, including Russia, have harshly criticized the Unification Church, whose members are seen here in a mass wedding in Seoul in 2002, calling it a sect.
BISHKEK -- A court in Bishkek has ruled that the South Korean-based Unification Church can no longer operate on Kyrgyz territory.

Earlier this month, the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security, the Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office and the State Directorate for Religious Issues filed a complaint with the court.

In it, the state bodies claimed the church's activities posed a threat to Kyrgyz national security by forcibly propagating nontraditional religious views without proper registration.

The Unification Church became active in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and has thousands of followers in the region.

Religious authorities in a number of post-Soviet states, including Russia, have harshly criticized the movement, calling it a sect.

Some curbs have been imposed on the Unification Church in those places as a result.

The Unification Church was founded in South Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung-moon, whom followers consider to be a messiah.
Ales Byalyatski during his trial in Minsk in November 2011
A prominent Belarusian human rights activist who was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in jail for tax evasion has been transferred from a detention center in Minsk to a labor camp in the eastern city of Babruysk.

The charges against Ales Byalyatski, head of Minsk-based Vyasna human rights organization, stemmed from his reported use of personal bank accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for human rights activities in Belarus.

He was convicted of the tax charges in November.

Byalyatski pleaded not guilty, and he and his supporters say the case against him is politically motivated.

His wife, Natallya Pinchuk, told RFE/RL on February 17 that prison officials had not given her any details regarding Byalyatski’s detention, except that he had been transferred to the Babruysk labor camp.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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