World News

Christian man fined for sharing his faith in Belarus

One of the evangelists of Baptist believers, who arranged a street performance in Drogichin and shared their faith with the locals, was detained and charged by the police.

Vladimir Burshtyn is a Christian man in his early 70s who travelled 110 km from his home to participate in the street performance organised by a Baptist musical group. They were playing uplifting music and sharing their faith with passersby in Drogichin in southwestern Belarus on the 1st of June. 

Police intercepted the performance and compelled them to stop. They detained Vladimir and charged him with “violating” the procedure for organizing or conducting a mass event or demonstration. According to local sources, authorities targeted him because he had been fined in the past for “organizing unapproved events.”

Vladimir was cited in court and the judge fined him 555 rubles (about $300 Canadian Dollars), which is equivalent of an elderly citizen’s average monthly pension.

They are going to appeal against the ruling. 

Although the constitution protects religious freedom in Belarus, the law released in 2002 warrants the Orthodox Church privileges above everyone else. Even though other “traditional faiths” have historical importance, any religious groups outside those outlined in the religion law face serious restrictions. All congregations must register, but it is an expensive and drawn-out process that frequently proves to be humanly impossible. Directives controlling faith-based groups in Belarus are considered the most restrictive of all the European countries.

Even though Belarus is officially a republic country, the government restricts basic human rights and does not uphold the rule of law. The lack of true democratic principles cause concern in other governments and they often refer to Belarus as “Europe’s last dictatorship.”



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