Christians Rights Harassment Monitoring released
The Monitoring covers the period from July till December 2006.
Evangelist Pastor from Baranavichy fined 4 mln. roubles
Siarhei Pazniakovich, pastor of the Baranavichy church Spasenie was fined for organizing a mass baptism without proper permit from the authorities.
Supreme Court retains Christ’s Covenant liquidation
The Supreme Court reaffirmed Minsk City Court’s decision of May 6, 2006. The official grounds for liquidation were the fact that the church’s legal address did not comply with the new legislation.
Evangelist Christians deported from rest site
Some 60 Christians, including 45 children, went to have a rest in the village of Tsizhyshki, Hrodna region. On August 9 local authorities with the help of 12 soldiers deported them to Minsk. As a reply to their complaint, vice-head of Minsk City Executive Committee M.Tsitsiankou said that the decision was caused by a threat to the children’s health.
7 Catholic priests and 5 conventuals denied visas
On September 20 7 priests and 5 nuns were not given Belarusian visas. By the end of December all of them were to leave Belarus. The authorities say they wanted to help Belarusian citizens get these jobs.
Orthodox priest advised not to use Internet
Heads of Belarusian division of the Russian Orthodox Church recommended Aliaksandr Shramko to restrain from using Internet. The reason for that are the articles that were published by the priest on Tsarkva web-site and livejournal.com. The contents of the articles did not correspond to the official position of the Orthodox Church.
New Life Evangelist Church demands equality
In 2002 the church purchased a cow-shed on the outskirts of Minsk. The believers wanted to turn the cow-shed into a church.
In 2005 Minsk authorities began persecuting the church.
Protestant pastor fined for service
The court of Maskouski district of Minsk has sentenced a pastor of the New Life church Vyachaslau Hancharenka to a fine. It was reported on Friday, August 4 by a written notification received by a church office. He was sentenced to a fine of 30 basic units (BYR 1 million) for holding a church service on June 4.
The sitting of the court was held in absence of Vyachaslau Hancharenka. He was on a holiday abroad then.
New Life loses church
On July 21 Minsk City Economic Court resolved to sell the building of the Church New Life in Minsk. On August 28 the appellate department of the Court reaffirmed the decision. Thus the Church was to leave the building in 10 days.
More Than 100 Persons on Hunger-strike of Support to New Life Church
69 Protestants on 6 October declared a hunger-strike against the confiscation of the building by the authorities. Besides, they decided to serve masses everyday and hold a meeting of protest in Banhalor square in Minsk on 21 October.
The action of protest started after 29 September, when Minsk city territorial fund of state property transferred the money to the church’s account in accordance with the decision of Minsk City Economic Court about forcible ransom of the building in Kavaliou Street 72 (former cowshed) from the church property. According to the Belarusian legislation, the church had to pass the building to the fund within 10-days’ term since the date of the transfer.
New Life Church Applies to Prosecutor because of STV Slander
On October 25 members of the New Life Church will apply to the Prosecutor General with the request to charge STV and its employees with slander. The believers are exasperated with slanderous information about their Church shown by STV, its author Ludmila Dzhurayeva, and guests: head of Minsk municipal department for religions and nationalities Ala Rabitseva, and Dr. of History Ivan Yanushkevich.
Acting according to the Belarusian legislation, on October 19 the Church addressed the STV Company demanding to refute false information about New Life Church which was broadcasted in the news program on October 14 and 15.
-- We think the show was slanderous, because the facts presented are not true and are of provocative character, -- claims Church lawyer Siarhei Lukanin, -- As a result of boorish montage of my words, STV broadcasted the alleged statement of mine, that could be understood that all participants of the hunger-strike were going to starve to death.
The believers decided to apply to the General prosecutor after a phone conversation with the STV legal consultant Halina Dvartsova. She said the company management failed to consider the demand because she had “no time to deal with that” and had “nothing to do with the believers’ hunger-strike”. When Siarhei Lukanin reminded the STV lawyer that in case the company fails to refute the false information they would have to apply to the prosecutor’s office, Ms. Dvartsova said: “You can write whoever you want. We don’t care about it.”
Protestants Stop Hunger Strike
On October 28 believers from 'New Life' Church received a response from the Supreme Economic Court. It says that the supervisory committee protested against the decision of Minsk Economic court. According to its verdict, the city transferred 35 million BYR (Ariund 18 thousand USD) to 'New Life's account as reimbursement for the building, while the building was given to the city. As the decision came into force, the believers decided to temporarily stop the hunger strike. However, they will stay in their building 24/7. They claim, they will continue their protest action until the problem is solved.
Charter'97 reports, on Saturday representatives of NGOs and art and culture figures gathered in the Church building on the proposal of the initiative group to create a Civic Council for rescue of the believers. The Church pastor Viachaslau Hancharenka expressed gratitude for support and pointed out that the authorities had ignored the protest action. The authorities failed to provide for medical observation of the hunger-strikers and concealed information about the hunger-strike from public. Viachaslau Hancharenka said information about the Church broadcasted by STV channel was slanderous.
Despite the protest of the supervisory commission of the Supreme Economic Court, legally the previous decision is still in force. The date of revising the case will be appointed during 30 days. During that period believers may be violently pushed out of the building at any moment. That is why the protesters continue their action: people will stay in the building day and night, the security guards will be on duty.
Unknown Persons Make Graffiti on Building of New Life Church
Today in the night the unknown smeared in black paint the building of Minsk Protestant church New Life. Under a Bible quote on the facade of the building hooligans wrote in black paint: ‘No to totalitarian sects!’
Catholic priest fined 62,000 roubles and forbidden to serve in Belarus
78-year-old Polish citizen Antoni Koczka was fined 62,000 roubles for violating immigration legislation, i.e. he did not register after coming to Belarus. Moreover, he served a mass without proper permit.
Belarusian Ctholica addressed Lukashenka
Belarusian Catholics asked the president to allow 7 priests and 5 nuns to work in Belarus in 2007.
Believers forced to withdraw applications for community registration
Brest authorities together with Orthodox officials pressurize the parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to withdraw their signatures for the registration a religious community.
Protestant Church befouled
On November 10 unknown persons wrote ‘Do not believe the sects!’ on the building of the Evangelist Church Spasenie in Baranavichy.
Krupki pastor persecuted for support of New Life Church
On October 30 Pastor Mikalai Barycheuski was summonsed to the local police station and warned for having failed to register in Krupki. The priest thinks this is caused by his support to the persecuted Church New Life.
Hrodna: Catholics Declare Hunger-strike
On December 1 in Hrodna believers of the Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady of Vostraia Brama, Mother of Mercy have announced a hunger-strike of protest. The matter is that since 1997 they cannot receive the official permission for building a church. They have obtained a peace of land for that, but haven’t received the permission to erect the building. They have written numerous letters and complaints to the authorities, but all in vain. The parish is situated in a populous district of the city and has about 5 000 members. At present divine masses are served at a chapel that houses less than 100 persons.
A week ago the leader of the protestors, priest A.Shemet had an audience with the chair of Hrodna Regional Executive Committee Uladzimir Sauchanka. Mr Sauchanka assured him that the permission will be issued. However, the official didn’t keep the promise. As a result the believers decided to take a radical step and declared a hunger-strike. Now more than 10 persons with A.Shemet at the head are hungering.
We should remind, that believers of the Protestant church New Life also struggled for their rights with the means of hunger-strike. It lasted for 23 days and became the most massive hunger-strike in Belarusian history. The believers stopped the action only when the authorities reversed the decisions according to which the religious community was deprived of their building and peace of land.
Orthodox Church in Mazyr on fire
On December 25 the St.George’s Church in Mazyr was set on fire. The building did not survive. The church was also befouled by Satanist inscriptions. It was the second time the church was set on fire.
Catholics go on hunger-strike
On December 29 over 100 believers from the village of Lazduny and Iuratsishki, Hrodna region, started a hunger-strike in protest against the persecution of the Polish citizen and Catholic priest Maryjusz Iljaszevicz. He was not allowed to serve in Belarus. However, the strike was not a success – on December 31 the priest had to leave Belarus.