The Belarusian authorities forbade the evangelical church to receive the humanitarian cargo that arrived from Sweden, and also ordered it to be returned to the sender at the expense of the church.
On January 21, the Department for Humanitarian Affairs of the Office of the President once again denied humanitarian aid to the Novolukoml Evangelical Church, human rights activists report.
Aid worth 25,625 SEK ($2,800) came from the charity organization Os-Helpen. There were wheelchairs, clothes, shoes, furniture, utensils, which were to be distributed among those in need.
The church received a message about the arrival of the “humanitarian aid” on September 20, 2021. After that, the believers applied three times to register the cargo, but each time they were refused.
The refusal to the third application came on the last day of the four-month period of validity of the permit to store the cargo. The authorities ordered the entire shipment to be returned to the sender at the expense of the church.
The reason for this decision was not reported.
Human rights activists suggest that the reason for this decision may be related to the personality of the pastor of the religious community, Alexander Zaretsky. In early 2021, he signed an “Open Letter from Christians in Belarus” against violence against protesters.
After that, the pastor was summoned for interrogation by the police, and on July 8, 2021, his house was searched. Now Zaretsky is in the status of a witness in a criminal case.