A Baptist man in his 70s was detained overnight, then fined a month’s pension for holding an outdoor evangelism event in Drahichyn, Belarus.
Police halted the June 1 event, in which Vladimir Burshtyn and a group of Baptists shared their faith and musicians performed. Burshtyn was the only individual detained. Forum 18 News Service reports that the judgment against Burshtyn was delivered in a closed hearing June 2 in Drogichin District Court.
An official with the ideology department of Drahichyn district’s executive committee said permission from local authorities is necessary for events such as the one Burshtyn coordinated, and thus the event was “illegal.”
According to Forum 18, Burshtyn is part of the Council of Churches Baptist. That group exercises its freedom of religion without seeking state permission.
In 2008, Burshtyn was fined in excess of two months’ wages for telling people outside a market in Ushachi about Jesus. At that time, this was the highest fine to have been given to a Council of Churches Baptist member in Belarus.
Three years before that, he was fined for leading what the government called an unregistered congregation in Malorita, which is where Burshtyn lives, states Forum 18. Malaryta is about 70 miles from Drahichyn.