Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek

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The Independent Online

Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, who died on 21 July at the age of 96, was the former leader of the Catholic Church in Belarus who survived a Soviet death sentence and nearly a decade in the Gulag. Swiatek, who was born in October 1914, was sentenced to death for spying in 1939 by Soviet authorities, but he escaped when Nazi forces occupied the city of Brest.

After the Red Army regained control of Belarus in 1944, he was rearrested and served nine years in the Gulag system in Siberia, working in forests and mines.

He became Archbishop of Minsk in 1991, a cardinal in 1994 and headed the church in Belarus, which counts about 15 per cent of the country as believers, until 2006.