COURT OBLIGED BELARUSIAN TV AND RADIO COMPANY TO APOLOGIZE TO EVANGELICAL FAITH CHRISTIANS
The end of the year 2002 brought success to many-months efforts of Evangelical Christians of Belarus to defend their rights.
On 24 December Pershamaiski borough court of Minsk heard the suit, filed by the Union of Evangelical Faith Christians and EFC community of Starya Darohi. The Christians sued the Belarusian TV and Radio Company and Yawhen Novikaw, host of the show "Human Rights. A Look at the World" to defend their honor, dignity and reputation.
On 9 and 16 April of 2001 Yawhen Novikaw claimed on airwaves, the Pentecostal Christians made a human sacrifice. Judge Zaitsava ruled to recognize the information that "Pentecostal rites are occult" and accusation of "human sacrifices, misanthropy, savagely cruel practices, and aspiration for destruction of the state" contrary to facts and discrediting their reputation.
The court decision came into effect on 4 January 2003. The Belarusian TV and Radio Company has 10 days to announce the court decision in one of its news programs.
Lawyer Dzina Shawtsova, who represented the plaintiff's interests, thinks, that "Certainly, the court did not satisfy all our demands, but still, this is a serious victory in the present conditions, when journalists of official mass media can spread slanderous information with perfect impunity. Such court decision will certainly help us in our further work. I also believe it will become a good preventive measure against such practices of violations of the legislation. I am also happy to learn that there are judges, able to make legal decisions. All this facts foster religious peace in Belarus, which has long history traditions of tolerance".
On 26 December Minsk city court also satisfied the private complaint of the Union of Evangelical Faith Christians against Savetski borough court ruling. Savetski borough court refused to launch the proceedings on the fact of spreading information about Pentecostal Christians, which was contrary to facts and slandered the Union of Evangelical Faith Christians. Minsk city court ruled that Savetski borough court should hear the suit, filed by the EFC Union.
Let us remind you, that on 6 September 2002 Savetski borough court refused to launch proceedings on the suit of EFC Union to newspapers Narodnaya Hazeta, Naviny Staradarozhchyny, and journalist Nina Yanovich, on the ground that the information, spread by the newspapers, was of "scientific character".
Evangelical churches brought the first suit against Nina Yanovich in 2000. Then a number of Minsk Evangelical churches sued Nina Yanovich for slander in her article in Narodnaya Hazeta, titled "Belarus Faces Prospects to Turn into Protestant Country, Or We Are Pressed to Betray Our Ancestors' Faith" (19-20 April 2000). In 2000 the case was considered by the same judge who made the same decision: to refuse launching the civic proceedings, because the article contained information of "scientific character".
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