Riot policemen stop divine service in Homieĺ, believers are summoned to police station
Believers of the church "Praabražennie" (“Transfiguration”) in Homieĺ are summoned to the police department for questioning and getting official charges. Neither the believers nor the pastor of the church, Siarhei Mikalayenka, know about the reasons for such actions of the police.
May 31, police officers and riot police interrupted the service, which was held in the auditorium of the leased administrative building in the Centraĺny district of Homieĺ. The lease agreement was concluded on March 1 has an there was an official agreement with Homieĺ City Executive Committee for the conduct of religious services.
"Everyone knew that we conducted worship services. A representative of Centraĺny District Executive Committee repeatedly came to our services. Therefore it is unclear why this happened and what we are accused of," Siarhei Nikalayenka said to RFE/RL.
The church was established and registered with the state in 2005 and was re-registered in 2012. Pastor Siarhei Mikalayenka said that police and riot police came in the middle of a divine services and ordered to stop the prayer until “clarifying the circumstances”.
"May 31, police and riot police came to us during a mass, shooting everything on video. They said they had allegedly received information about an unauthorized gathering and needed to conduct an inspection. They stopped the mass, led me out of the church together with a parishioner and drew up reports of administrative violation on us. They also drew up violation report against five more people, asked their addresses and telephones. They told us to get out of the room, saying “Your mass is over”.
Now they call our parishioners, call them to questionings to the police station, giving rather strange questions, which discriminate our civil rights and freedoms as citizens of Belarus, such as: “Why do you go to this very church, not to some other one?” Thus, they violate our right to freedom of conscience. A report of administrative violation has been allegedly compiled against me. The people are intimidated that a criminal case is allegedly being instigated against me,” says Siarhei Nikalayenka.
The pastor was said on the telephone that he needed to come to a police station belonging the Centraĺny District Police Department of Homieĺ, and sign a report of administrative violation.
Pastor Siarhei Nikalayenka says he used to belong to the Reformed Orthodox Church, but then had to deliver services at "Praabražennie", as the authorities were reluctant to register the Reformed Orthodox Church.
"From time to time I can wear the clothes of a priest, as I haven't been deprived of priesthood, I am just serving in the evangelical church."
Pastor Siarhei Nikalayenka does not rule out that his services may be disliked by the official Orthodox Church. "Someone just dislikes us, we don't know who yet," he says.