Rev. DZIYANISI KARASTSIALOU, Orthodox Church (Minsk)

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Rev. Dziyanisi Karastsialou

A priest of the Ikon of the Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow parish of the Minsk Eparchy of the Belarusian Orthodox Church in Minsk.

On 1 January 2023, after the liturgy, Rev. Dziyanisi Karastsialou was offering a prayer; one of the requests submitted for prayer was «for the soldiers and defenders of Ukraine» which the priest read aloud. On 3 January 2023, a denunciation of the priest was published on the propagandist Bondarava’s Telegram channel, albeit with an incorrect date as if the mentioned events took place on 2 January 2023.  Bondarava called on the police to deal with the priest. On 4 January 2023, the Metropolitan of Minsk Veniamin (Tupeko) published a circular letter in which he announced that he had suspended Rev. Dziyanisi Karastsialou from ministry, effectively dismissing him from the ministry (removing him from performing religious services), until he repents. In the aforementioned circular letter, Metropolitan Veniamin judged this incident as «the creation of a situation that provoked misunderstanding and disputes among believers, including on political grounds» and warned the clergy of the Minsk Eparchy against repeating similar incidents.

On 5 January 2023, it became known that the priest was detained by GUBOPiK (Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption); his so-called «penitential» video was published in one of the police-related Telegram channels. In addition to the «penitential» video, the police also forced the priest to strip to the waist and photographed him with a tattoo on his right shoulder representing the Pahonia coat of arms and the inscription ‘Belarus’. This photo with the naked torso of the priest was also published by the police on the internet.

He got 14 days of administrative arrest.