Homieĺ Prosecutor’s Office warns Protestant pastor
The Homieĺ City Prosecutor's Office has issued an official warning to Siarhei Nikalayenka, pastor of the Protestant community "Transfiguration".
The warning says: "The information received by the Homieĺ City Prosecutor's Office from the Centraĺny district police department shows that you arrange unsanctioned religious meetings in the assembly hall of the Homieĺsaŭhasbud enterprise. For the offense, you were brought to administrative responsibility. Moreover, as it has been established, you arrange the mentioned meetings on behalf of an unregistered religious organization, the Church of Christ the Savior, which is prohibited by the legislation of the Republic of Belarus.”
The warning reminds about the threat of criminal prosecution.
Meanwhile, Siarhei Nikalayenka said that the Regional Court had quashed the administrative fine imposed on him in June and sent the case for retrial. Therefore, the prosecutor's threat of punishment seems premature.
According to the pastor, the Protestant community did not violate the law. According to Article 31 of the Constitution, believers may freely express their religious views either themselves and with others. The organization has official permission to hold services in Homieĺ, and it has a registration. The only thing that the believers did not have - is an approval of worships in the Centraĺny district, as the church is registered in the Saviecki district. The pastor had filed the necessary documents, but when the police broke into the church, they were not yet signed.
The incident occurred in April when police officers raided an officially hired room.