Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Christian Persecution - Russia & Former USSR » Pastor Freed from Prison in Belarus, But Another to be Jailed?

christian news

Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Christian Persecution - Russia & Former USSR » Pastor Freed from Prison in Belarus, But Another to be Jailed?

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

MINSK, BELARUS (ANS) — Pastor Georgi Vyazovsky of Christ's Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Belarus was freed from a Minsk prison for Administrative Violations Code offenders shortly after midday local time today (13 March) on completion of a ten-day sentence for conducting religious worship in his own home.

Shortly after his release, Pastor Vyazovsky told Geraldine Fagan of Forum 18 News Service (www.Forum18.org) he felt "splendid" and even joked that he had lost weight due to the "good diet."

Held in cells with five and then 13 other inmates, he also said that both they and the warders were "amazed" that he was there for religious activity: "They'd never had such a case before — one of the staff remarked that the judge must have gone crazy."

To Forum 18's knowledge, Pastor Vyazovsky is the first person to have been
imprisoned for religious worship on the territory of Belarus for some 20 years. However, at least one further prosecution appears imminent.

Fagan writes that fellow Reformed Baptist pastor Vladimir Bukanov told Forum 18 on 13 March that approximately 30 members of various Protestant churches gathered at 11.30am to meet Pastor Vyazovsky, but were roughly moved some 400 meters (yards) away from the prison by police, while some 20 special police officers stood by.

On 10 March a meeting of Baptist Union pastors in Brest region wrote to
President Aleksandr Lukashenko and other top state representatives calling
Pastor Vyazovsky's arrest and detention "a disgrace." Leaders of the
charismatic Full Gospel Association also expressed their concern at Pastor
Vyazovsky's sentence in an open statement published on 13 March.

Fagan says: "A combination of restrictions contained in the Administrative Violations Code (Article 167) and the 2002 religion law bans all but occasional and small-scale religious meetings in private homes, and religious activity outside designated houses of worship unless it has advance approval from the state authorities. A first offence is punishable by either a warning, a fine of between 20 and 150 times the minimum monthly wage or three to 15 days' imprisonment. A repeat offence within one year is punishable by either a fine of between 150 and 300 times the minimum monthly wage or ten to 15 days' imprisonment."

On 25 November 2005 Partisan District Court issued a warning to Pastor
Vyazovsky following police check-ups on his home services on 26 May 2005 and 30 October 2005 (see F18News 15 December 2005 www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=705).

Fagan writes: "An appeal against the court's decision was rejected by Minsk City Court on 10 January 2006. Following a raid on the Sunday service at his Minsk home on 5 February, Pastor Vyazovsky was sentenced on 3 March under Article 167 of the Administrative Violations Code (see F18News 6 March 2006 www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=737).

She adds: "Pastor Vyazovsky confirmed to Forum 18 on 13 March that there has been no further attempt to prosecute church members since his conviction.

"Forum 18 has learned, however, that the Pentecostal bishop of Minsk region
is now also threatened with prosecution under Article 167. Sergei Tsvor,
who is also first vice-chairman of the Pentecostal Union and pastor of the
Minsk-based Good News Church, told Forum 18 on 13 March that police visited the free-standing residential house where his 100-strong congregation meets during a service some six weeks ago. When an officer drew up a protocol against the bishop on the grounds that he had no right to lead the
gathering under the law on public demonstrations, 'I told them that it
wasn't a demonstration or a picket, but a worship service,' " Tsvor told
Forum 18. "I can't understand it," he said.

Fagan says that Tsvor confirmed that Good News Church is re-registered at the house under the 2002 religion law, for which a document confirming a religious community's right to be situated at its address is required. (Even though the same law prohibits systematic and large-scale religious meetings in private homes, some religious organizations have in practice managed to re-register at free-standing residential houses.)

Fagan continues: "Under the 2003 demonstrations law, all public events require the advance permission of the local state authorities, while the 2002 religion law states that religious events — if not in designated places of worship — may take place only after a corresponding decision by the local authorities. It would thus appear that permission to hold individual services is being interpreted as separate from that already received by Good News Church to be situated at a residential address. If so, this is the first such case of which Forum 18 is aware.

She concludes: "Summoned to a hearing at Minsk's Moscow District Court at 2pm on 9 March, Bishop Tsvor told Forum 18 that the judge had been busy with another case and told him he would be summoned again. He has heard nothing since, however."

There was no answer at Moscow District Court when Forum 18 rang on 13 March.

For more background information see Forum 18's Belarus religious freedom
survey at www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=478

A printer-friendly map of Belarus is available at

© Forum 18 News Service. All rights reserved. ISSN 1504-2855
You may reproduce or quote this article provided that credit is given to
F18News www.forum18.org/

No Comment

Leave a Reply

Copyright 1999-2015 Worthy News. All rights reserved.

Fair Use Notice:This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

What is Worthy News?

Worthy News is an independent Christian news agency which reports news not covered by other outlets, on key developments in a rapidly changing world. Worthy News reaches both Christians and non-Christians around the globe and strives to be balanced and make a difference in these strategic times.

Worthy News. Reliable-Trustworthy-Cutting Edge

Recommended Links

  • Editor’s Blog

    • Historical Cyclical Patterns Emerging in Greece
      Greece defaulted on its IMF loan last night. It is interesting that it was actually the Greek Philosopher Plato who was the first to advocate the "credit" theory of money. His prized student, Aristotle, who […]
    • Reader Question: Where do you get that Sept. 23, 2015 is Jubilee (of Jerusalem)?
      First of all, it is important to know that God is not working on our Gregorian calendar but He is rather fulfilling His Word according to the calendar that He established, which is a 360 […]
    • Are you looking back? Remember Lot's Wife!
      As this shocking Supreme Court decision on Gay marriage settles into the nation, I'm reminded of the passage in Luke where Yeshua (Jesus) told us one of the final signs of His return. He said it […]
    • Supreme Court: Not One but THREE Strikes!
      Most are aware of the recent decision by the Supreme Court on the issue of same-sex marriage, but many may not realize that this was only one of the history-making decisions reached this session. This past month, […]
    • The Water Breaking Moment?
      In Matthew 24, Yeshua (Jesus) makes an interesting correlation between the end of the age and a woman giving birth. [Matthew 24:8]. As the birth of a baby draws near, the birth pangs intensify, and […]
    • Prophetic Calendar for 2015
      As requested by many and after much prayer and research, I have compiled a list of significant events over which we must be praying in the coming months. By listing these events, let it be […]
  • Editor’s Picks

  • 1999-2015 Worthy News » Pastor Freed from Prison in Belarus, But Another to be Jailed?