2 April 2003
State officials insist that the True Orthodox Church, which has three parishes and some 300 adherents, does not exist in Belarus. "There are no such parishes. There is no such Church," Aleksandr Kalinov of the government's Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs told Forum 18 News Service. Not only parishes of the True Orthodox Church, but those of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church have been denied the right to register, while Belarus' president has vowed to use all state forces to protect the unity of the Moscow Patriarchate's Exarchate in the country. "Officially there is no ban on registering Orthodox parishes which are outside the framework of the Moscow Patriarchate," Oleg Gulak of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee told Forum 18. "But in practice – of course there is."
2 April 2003
Fr Leonid Plyats, priest of the True Orthodox parish of St John of Kronstadt near Minsk, told Forum 18 News Service that his community will fight on to be able to worship openly and legally despite the rejection on 27 March of his parish's suit to overturn the denial of registration. Denis Yelizarev of the government's Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs insisted that the Committee's assessment against the parish had been correct. "They slandered other faiths, that's why they were banned."