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BAPTIST SERVICE INTERRUPTED BY POLICE IN THE TOWN OF SVETLOGORSK, BELARUS

BAPTIST SERVICE INTERRUPTED BY POLICE IN THE TOWN OF SVETLOGORSK, BELARUS

Worship service of IUCECB Church was taking place in late May in a private house located at Parichskaya Street 4а, Svetlogorsk, Gomel Region, Belarus. At 10:20 a.m. two plain-clothed individuals literally broke into the house and started recording the service with a video camera. They did not respond to a request to show their credentials or other documents, they were walking around the hall with the camera and speaking on the mobile phones thus disturbing the peaceful course of the service. Then 11 armed individuals in police uniform entered the building shouting: “Everyone Freeze!”. The operation was led by Police Major Vyacheslav Kozhedub.

During the kneeling prayers they came up to Presbyter Vladimir Daineko, ordered him to rise up from his knees and read the prescript of Public Prosecutor V.A. Tarasenko on the inspection of residential premises. Brother Vyacheslav refused to read this paper. He was then forcibly taken to the local interior department where an administrative offense report was drawn up against him under parts 1 and 2 of Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Belarus (“Failure to comply with the established order of holding rallies, street processions, manifestations, pickets…”).

Administrative offense report under the same Article was drawn up against Brother Yuri Volodenko. Details of everyone present at the service were written down.

This service was held in a private house, so it cannot fall under Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Belarus, all the more so that, as stated in the RB Constitution, “everyone shall have the right to independently determine his attitude towards religion, to profess any religion individually or jointly with others, or to profess no religion at all…” (Article 31).

On 08.06.2015 Judge I.V. Pradun of Svetlogorsk District Court, having reviewed the administrative offense reports, ruled to impose the fine of 3,600,000 BYR (233 US Dollars) on Brothers Vladimir Daineko and Yuri Volodenko.

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