Another Protestant Pastor fined

2010 2010-07-22T21:40:47+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On 29 July 2010 the Kobryn District Court of the Brest region found reverend Viktar Novikau, Pastor of the Church of Evangelic Faith Christians guilty of violating Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences and fined 2,100,000 rubles (700,000 rubles for three masses, served on 31 May, 7 and 14 June).

According to the verdict, on 14 June V.Novik ‘organized and held mass events including religious speeches and distribution of religious literature in Lenin Street in the village of Hrushava in the Kobryn district’. The police considered the professing as a revolting sedition and draw the pastor to account.

As it is stated in the court ruling, ‘he (Novik) understands that an appropriate permission is necessary to hold an action. He applied to the Kobryn District Executive Committee to receive the permission, but didn’t receive it.’

In fact, Mr. Novik repeatedly applied to the appropriate state agencies with the request to let Christians rent a club for such events. However, the believers weren’t allowed to do it under the pretext that clubs must serve solely secular purposes.

It’s quite interesting that similar actions gathered about 5-6 people in this village last year and the Protestants received just oral remarks. Though Gospel was professed in about 50 villages during the recent years, there were no incidents. However, this year an Evangelic mass was attended by about 20 people, as a result of which the local authorities stated that it was a ‘religious mass action’.

The parishioners and the pastors tried to get an answer where is the border between ‘mass’ and ‘non-mass’ actions and how a ‘public place’ could be distinguished from a ‘non-public’ one and received the recommendation to gather in private houses.