Authorities Continue Pressure on Protestant Believers
Zhodzina authorities prohibit the local community of Evangelical Christians to hold services. The formal reason of the prohibition is that the believers gather for prayer in a big tent after the fire on February 23rd, when the church building burnt down. The reason of the fire has not been found. The members of the Holy Trinity Church began to gather in a big tent. However, the authorities prohibit such gatherings and suggest the church should rent a hall in another part of the town.
On September 23rd, a group of 10 policemen headed by chief of the city police came to the morning services. They threatened the believers and demanded to stop the prayer and leave the place. This is one of the numerous examples of resistance between the Protestants and the local authorities.
Head of the Church Council Alexander Vialichka commented the situation for Viasna:
“During two years we are having a real struggle with the local authorities. In the beginning we tried to solve the issues on the local level: we visited the executive committee and talked with the town officials many times. However, their words do not coincide with their actions. Then we began writing letters to different institutions, ministries, and even the President's Office. However, all our appeals were sent back to the executive committee. Recently we haven’t seen any reaction at all.
The situation that happened yesterday cannot be called anything else but pressure on the believers of a Protestant Church. Because that's what we hear in private conversations: "We will not leave you in peace". Now the authorities have found a formal ground to prohibit our services. We are restoring the building that burnt in February and hold prayers in a big army tent”. However, the executive committee even puts obstacles to construction, although we have all the necessary documents. Certainly, this is a gross violation of the freedom of conscience, directed against people who belong to another – not the “official” -- denomination.