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BELARUS: Raids and fines restart, eviction again suspended for now
ICC Note:
Well, the year of silence is over; raids and fines against Christians have once again started in Belarus. Recently two Baptist churches were raided for meeting without state approval and three local leaders have been fined. This leaves many wondering if this is a one-time thing, or if persecution of Christians is on the rise.
By Olga Glace
06/14/2013 Belarus (Forum18)- Raids and fines against Baptists in Belarus who meet for worship without state permission have re-started. After separate raids on Sunday worship services at both congregations of the Council of Churches Baptists in the south-eastern town of Gomel [Homyel], three local leaders have been fined. These are the first such raids and fines in almost a year. Police told Forum 18 News Service that one of the raids had been initiated by the KGB secret police, with the aim of “revealing criminal groups of the unregistered Baptists”. “We [the police] deal with family quarrels and street fights, and are not interested in religion,” the police officer told Forum 18. “In this mission we only lent assistance.”
And on 13 June, New Life Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in the capital Minsk received a Higher Economic Court order requiring the Church to vacate its building within seven days. However, on the morning of 14 June, the Court suspended the eviction order at the request of the housing authority which had initiated it. These events are similar to the last eviction order and its cancellation in November 2012. Church lawyer Sergei Lukanin thinks the strategy for such cases is deliberate. In his opinion housing authorities and the Higher Economic Court are the pawns in a game and do whatever they are told by the government.

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