PRIMA News Agency (Russia), July 14, 2003
Minsk, BELARUS. Almost 5000 protestants from all over Belarus gathered on Bangalor Square in Minsk on the evening of July 13 for prayers. The prayer meeting included representatives of the Union of True Gospel Christians, and the Association of Christians of the Whole Gospel. The protestants were there not only to pray, but also to protest against oppression by the authorities.
According to the “Freedom of Conscience” information centre, protestants told of the difficulties they had experienced in re-registering their congregations; of fines imposed for holding services in their homes; and of bans on baptisms in rivers and lakes. They were particularly concerned about textbooks provided for the eleventh-grade schoolchildren , in which pentecosts are described as a sect, and a programme broadcast on Belarus’s state TV channel on June 21 which alleged that the Union of True Gospel Christians was a “satanic cult”.
Speakers from Grodnensk, Brest and Mogilev told the gathered crowd about their appeal to the governing authorities for the right to conduct prayers and Bible study in private homes.
The protestants on Bangalor Square drew up an appeal to Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko, asking him not to allow the escalation of inter-denominational rivalry, and genuinely to enable freedom of conscience within their country.