Statement of the Christian Vision Group of the Coordination Council Regarding the Criminal Prosecution of the Christian Reformed Thinker, Uladzimir Matskevich

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10 October 2021

For over two months, a philosopher, methodologist, founder of the Flying University and Christian Reformed believer, Uladzimir Matskevich, has been kept in the detention centre no. 1 in Minsk. He and his colleagues — Tatsiana Vadalazhskaya, Aksana Shelest and Ulad Vialichka — were detained on 4 August 2021 after police searches. 

Since 2000, Matskevich has been an active participant in the Christian community in Belarus. A follower of the Reformed stream of Protestantism, he wrote an article about its founder, Jean Calvin, for the Newest Philosophical Dictionary. Matskevich often discusses Christianity, its history and its relevance for contemporary Belarusian society in his philosophical texts, opinion journalism and public speeches. 

In 2002 to 2006, Matskevich took part in the civil initiative, For Freedom of Religion, opposing a new repressive version of the law On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations (2002) and defending the freedom of religion in Belarus.

Freedom of conscience has always been one of the key and inalienable human rights for Matskevich. In 2006 he joined the fasting/hunger strike of believers of the New Life Full Gospel church. This radical method was the last opportunity for the community to protect their place of worship converted from a disused cowshed. For fifteen years, the state authorities had attempted to confiscate this church from the believers. Thanks to the hunger strike and an intense campaign of public solidarity, the community was able to defend its place of worship until it was taken away by force in the wave of repressions in 2020-2021.

Since 2003, Matskevich has taken part in founding a Christian democratic party — Belarusian Christian Democracy (BChD). Matskevich proposed his Doctrine of Belarusian Conservatism as an ideological basis for the BChD. It was partially adopted by the organising committee and its main provisions were included in the BChD program documents.

Belarusian human rights organizations recognized Uladzimir Matskevich as a political prisoner. The authorities charged him under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (Organizing actions that grossly violate public order), declared the 65-year-old philosopher prone to extremism, and kept him in solitary confinement for a long time.

We express our strongest disagreement with the arbitrary criminal prosecution of the philosopher Uladzimir Matskevich. We demand his immediate release and the termination of the criminal case against him.

We call on the Belarusian and world Christian community, especially — members, theologians and leaders of the Reformed churches, to solidarity with the persecuted Christian Reformed thinker, Uladzimir Matskevich.