Trial of Roman Catholic priest from Transcarpathia held in Belarus

20 July, 12:20
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Trial of Roman Catholic priest from Transcarpathia held in Belarus - фото 1
Priest Andrey Vashchuk was accused of "violating the procedure for organizing or holding mass events" (Part 1 of Article 24.23 of the Administrative Code). The trial was held behind closed doors on July 18, and the priest was sentenced to 15 days of arrest.

This is reported by Radio Liberty.

As RISU reported, priest Andrey Vashchuk was detained at noon on July 15 in Vitebsk. The reason for the detention, presumably, was the repost of the "last word" of political prisoner Dmytro Dashkevych in court.

For some time, the priest was in the Pershotravnevy Police Department of Vitebsk, and later, he was transferred to a pre-trial detention center.

Belarusian assistant bishop of the Minsk-Mogilev Archdiocese Yuri Kasabutsky called for praying for Priest Andrey Vashchuk on the eve of his case being considered in court.

"I ask all those who are not indifferent to pray for the Catholic priest Father Andrey Vashchuk, a Salvatorian who is behind bars.

This is a Priest (I deliberately write this word with a capital letter in relation to Father Andrey) by God's Providence and a noble person. Father Andrey is completely devoted to God, the church and the people. Serving everyone, giving himself up to the end. We pray for all those who need God's help in trials, especially in times of persecution and repression. Our prayer is strength and power, it is the "good part" that cannot be taken away from us (cf. LK. 10, 38-42)," Kasabutsky wrote on Facebook.

Note that Fr Andrey Vashchuk performed his ministry in Transcarpathia for a long time and was a priest in Svalyava.

Andrey Vashchuk is not the first priest to be persecuted in Belarus recently.

On July 8, in Smorgon, local Roman Catholic priest Yevgeny Uchkuronis was fined 20 basic units (640 rubles) for reposting "extremist" media publications on Facebook.

In May, a Catholic priest from Stav Andrzej Bulczak (originally from the Diocese of Gdansk) was also fined 960 rubles in absentia for "extremism": he posted a 2.5-minute video on the internet in which a girl from Belarus writes: "I ask for your forgiveness. It is not our fault, ordinary people, that our neighbors are being shelled from our territory." The priest replied, "he will pay this money but to Ukraine."

In April, a priest from Lintupov, Alexander Baran, was detained for six days for posting the flag of Ukraine and the Belarusian red and white flag on his profile photo on social networks.

And in March, Greek Catholic priest Vasyl Yegorov, who was detained for the sticker "Ukraine, I'm sorry" in Mogilev, was fined 50 basic units, that is, 1,600 rubles.

Repressions against priests in Belarus have continued since the Rigged 2020 elections.

Among those detained for a longer or shorter period were Orthodox priests from the Grodno region, priests of the Sacred Heart from Posav and Grodno, a Jesuit and a Greek Catholic from Vitebsk, a Greek Catholic from Brest, and an Orthodox Fr. Uladzimir Drobyshevsky from Gomel, Baptist pastor Roman Rozhdestvensky from Cherikov (Mogilev region).

Since December 2020, an Orthodox priest Sergey Rezanovich from Brest, has been imprisoned.

The non-governmental organization Center for the protection of Human Rights "Viasna", which monitors the persecution in Belarus, recognized Fr. Rezanovich as a "prisoner of conscience".