10 Americans were forced to leave the country, Friday, after being threatened with deportation for violating certain religious laws. Apparently singing religious songs is deemed subversive enough an action to warrant deportation, but that's exactly what happened; although according to Oleg Slepchenko, Interior Ministry spokesman, the Americans chose to leave "voluntarily" rather than be officially tossed out. Guests of an evangelical Protestant Church in Mogilev, the Americans arrived in Belarus on February 5th and were supposedly participating in conversational English seminars, until a police raid discovered [gasp]
Even though the Russian Orthodox Church is the dominant (and favored) religion in Belarus, Lukashenko signed a law, in October 2002, requiring all religious groups and organizations (including the Russian Orthodox) to re-register with the government. Most chose to do so, because unregistered religious groups are not legally allowed to gather for religious purposes. Many of those groups continue to meet, in spite of the potential for legal action.