Pastor fined for religious service
On March 6th in Zhodzina Valiantsin Luhouski, pastor of the Evangelical Church of St. Trinity was triad. He was fined 175, 000 BYR for violation of the Law “about Mass Event in the Republic of Belarus”.
The court based its decision on the report of V. Shliakhtsiin, head of Zhodzina city police department. When hearing the case judge Ivan Hrynkevich limited himself to reading the wriiten explanations collected by policemen during the service. However, the reports of interrogations of pastors who were present during the service (Pastor Aliaksandar Vialichka, Aliaksandar Shcheviakou, and Viktar Volkau) did not even get into the case materials and were not considered in the courtroom.
The judge also ignored the fact that on February 2nd, 2008 Valianstin Luhouski was at work in Minsk. The service was actually held by other pastors. The court chose the position of the head of the city police, and, referring to testimony of A Latouskaya, head of Zhodzina executive committee’s department for ideology, decided that it was proved that pastors were not present at the service, i.e. there was no real service.
On February 24th staff of Zhodzina city executive committee, headed by first deputy head Uladzimir Siamashka, tried to disrupt the service, held by Evangelical Christians in their Church of St. Trinity. The service was held in a rented hall of Yunost movie theater, according to the contract between the Church and the movie theater administration.
The service was visited by Siamashka, who demanded to stop the service, referring to the fact that the Church was allowed only to read the Bible, and not practice religious cults or music activities. According to U. Siamashka, the Church cannot use the musical form of worship during the religious service. Siamashka brought a couple of policemen along, who checked the passports and interrogated the people who came to the service.
Earlier Zhodzina city executive committee rejected the request of the Church to allow them build a church building.