BosNewsLife – In an unprecedented move a Belarus security chief on Thursday, September 15, offered to mediate between the government and members of an evangelical church the authorities want to close down, church leaders said Thursday, September 15. The reported promise made by General Filistovich came as members of the embattled New Life congregation in Minsk prepared to gather in front of the Minsk City Executive Council building to demand freedom of worship and to protest against a decision by city officials to confiscate their land on which the church is build.
He “gave his word of an officer that he will learn our problems and will personally influence the
positive resolution,” New Life said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest .
Gereral Filistovich, who is a deputy interior minister and chief of security forces, “asked believers not to go on the street until all the means are not used in negotiations with authorities,” New Life explained.
“As a last opportunity the general offered personally to mediate in this negotiations which will be on Monday, September 19, at midday in his office in the building of the Ministry of Interior,” the church added.
Monday’s talks were expected to be attended by church leaders and several senior government officials, including representatives of the ministerial Committee on Religious Affairs and National Minorities.
New Life said General Filistovich, whose first names were not immediately available, “believes that it is not in the interest of the republic to have a conflict between believers and the authorities. In this situation the leaders of the church decided to use this opportunity [of negotiations] to resolve this problems.”
The last minute agreement and cancellation of the protest avoided a potential violent confrontation with security forces, who recently broke up several demonstrations for more freedom in Belarus , a former Soviet republic US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described as “the last true dictatorship” in central Europe [Go To Full Story]