Homieĺ priests threatened with criminal charges under Article 193.1
The house of Siarhei Nikalayenka, pastor of the Homieĺ-based religious community “Church of God Transfiguration”, as well as the apartment of his deputy Aliaksandr Chuyeu, has been searched by police officers. The raid reportedly dealt with the preliminary investigation of the criminal case under Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code (activities on behalf of unregistered organization).
The religious community has been officially registered since 2004. In 2012, it was re-registered. In March 2015, the community signed a lease agreement for the premises of worship. According to Pastor Siarhei Nikalayenka, the religious community sent a request to the administration of Centralny district to negotiate the services. The officials did not give official permission, but verbally allowed to hold services.
A search warrant signed by the Prosecutor of Homieĺ S. Zaitsau says that the houses of Siarhei Nikalayenka and Aliaksandr Chuyeu can store “illegal literature of sectarian nature or information that infringes on the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens or harming the execution by citizens of their state, public, family duties, as well as the statutory documents of the unregistered organization, lists of its members, calendar of events, reports of activities, meetings, financial reports, seals and more.”
However, the order refers to the Church of Christ the Savior, not Transfiguration, the pastor of which is Siarhei Nikalayenka. This is also confirmed by other documents.
On June 19, Judge Viktar Kazachak of Homieĺ’s Centralny District Court heard the administrative charges against Pastor Siarhei Nikalayenka, and the priest was punished by a fine of 20 basic units (3.6 million rubles). On May 31, Siarhei Nikalayenka conducted a Sunday service, which was stopped by police officers. The raid was explained by allegedly receiving an anonymous call.
At the trial on June 19, Pastor Siarhei Nikalayenka pled not guilty of violating the law. He explained that the religious community was officially registered to perform activity in the city of Homieĺ.