Police Attempted to Draw Presbyter of Gospel Baptist Church to Administrative Responsibility
On December 12, 2002 a police inspector composed a report of administrative violation by the presbyter of Baptist church Aliaxandr Mikhalienkau.
Excerpt: “Violation of he established order of organization or holding of religious assemblies. He serves liturgies from 10 to 12 a.m. on Sundays in house No. 8 in Hartny Street, which is inappropriate for this (there’s no sanitation unit and emergency exit).”
This report was submitted to Mensk Zavadski borough court to initiate an administrative case for punishment of Article No. 167.1 of the Code of administrative violations. If found guilty, the presbyter could be fined from $124 to 932 or receive from 3 to 15 days of imprisonment.
On December 23 the case was considered, the judge Mikalai Balauniou decided to close the case because of absence of corpus delicti.
According to the lawyer Dzina Shautsova, the real reason for initiation of this criminal case was the letter, distributed to local executive committees by the chairman of department of religion of Miensk city executive committee Rabtsava A.M. in August 2002.
According to her information, in this letter Miensk CEC demanded from the local bodies to draw those heads of religious organizations who conduct religious assemblies in private houses, to administrative responsibility.
“Adradzhennie” church was included in the number of denominations who gather in private houses in spite of the fact that the house in Hartny Street has been the official place of the denomination since 1996.
Some officials think that in accordance with the new law of the Republic of Belarus “About religious freedom and religious organizations” believers will have to ask for permission of local executive body to gather in private houses for joint prayers and Biblical studies. Such explanation and usage of the new law can lead to limitation of church activity and violations of religious rights.
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