by Julie A Seymour
Belarusian police and a riot squad raided a May 31 Sunday service at the Reformed Orthodox Transfiguration Church in Gomel, claiming the meeting was unauthorized, Forum 18 reported. On Aug. 16, BosNewsLife reported the church’s pastor, Sergei Nikolaenko, may face criminal charges.
“They were too hasty—they didn’t wait for permission from the city authority to conduct religious services,” Dmitry Chumakov, the official in charge of religious affairs at Gomel Regional Executive Committee, told Forum 18.
Officials fined Nikolaenko in June for the “unapproved religious meeting,” BosNewsLife reported. Weeks earlier, authorities also raided a Council of Churches Baptist congregation in Svetlogorsk and fined a member there. According to Forum 18, that church meets without permission.
Such raids are not typical, according to part-time pastor Anatoly Chukhalionok who lives in Minsk...
...Belarus, a former Soviet bloc country, is a landlocked nation bordering Russia and Ukraine. Its communist past shows in theBelarusian economy and the presence of security forces still known as the KGB...