Homieĺ court fines pastor for illegal service
On August 20, Homieĺ’s Centraĺny District Court found Siarhei Nikalayenka, pastor of the Church “Transfiguration”, guilty of violating the rules of holding mass events (Part 2, Art. 23.34 of the Administrative Code). The priest was punished by a fine of 3.6 million for arranging a Sunday service on May 31, which was stopped by riot policemen.
Earlier, the court punished the pastor for the offense, but the Regional Court overturned the decision and sent the case for retrial.
Siarhei Nikalayenka was also accused of activity on behalf of an unregistered religious organization, the Reformed Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior, but no evidence was provided at the trial.
“The Belarusian authorities keep a close eye on the activities of unregistered religious organizations. But there is no evidence that Siarhei Nikalayenka was acting on behalf of the Church of Christ the Savior, if you look at all the documents he submitted. The books he has published is not proof, it's a private matter. He has the right to write on any topic. Because if, for example, an Orthodox priest publishes a book, which will reflect Protestant beliefs, then let the leaders of the church deal with him, the authorities have nothing to do with it,” comments human rights activist, a member of the BHC Viktar Adzinochanka.