New Life Church protests
Bishop of the Association of Full Gospel Christians Viachaslau Hancharenka asks the authorities to take administrative measures towards Leanid Huliaka, who is responsible for religious and national affairs.
In the statement, sent to the Belarusian government, the bishop reminds that in September 2007 vice-prime-minister Aliaksandar Kasinets personally instructed Leanid Huliaka to resolve the conflict between the Church New Life and Minsk administration as soon as possible. However, Huliaka ignored the order of his direct boss, i.e. he violated the law on state service.
Bishop Hancharenka also said the statements Huliaka had made during the meeting with representatives of Protestant religious associations, “inadmissible for a state official and insulting for Full Gospel Christians of Belarus”.
Mikhail Rybakou, representative of Huliaka’s office, claimed that they had not received any letters from Hancharenka:
“The issue between the state and hancharenka’s complaint should be considered under the law. The issues which were raised by the Church are being considered between Minsk city executive committee and those who have the right to that land. In this case I don’t see how it applies to us. If you have any questions to us, you should submit a written statement, and we will consider it”.
Viachaslau Hancharenka says they have also addressed Huliaka, but he gave them a runaround.
“We sent the statement because we want an explanation who we can address now. Which state institution is responsible for regulating conflicts between the Church and the state, if the person who is responsible for religious affairs and his apparatus do not perform their functions? In 2006 we had to hunger-strike in our building because no one wanted to deal with the issue.”
According to Viachaslau Hancharenka, during several months the authorities keep sending various services to check the “New Life” Church. They try to get inside the building. The question is also “hanging” in the Supreme Economic Court. Yesterday prosecutor’s office of Maskouski district of Minsk gave a warning to Viachaslau Hancharenka for refusal to let representatives of the Ministry for emergency situations into the building. The prosecutor’s office asks not to prevent representatives of this Ministry from entering the building. The believers are threatened with administrative and criminal responsibility for doing that.
“At our general meeting we made a decision that we would not let anyone in until our demand is satisfied: to cancel the decision of Minsk city executive committee, which ruled to confiscate the land from us, -- pastor Hancharenka says, -- we decided not to let anyone in. This is our action of protest, the action of civic disobedience. We defined our position, and will not let anyone in, under any circumstances. They should solve their problems, instead of pressurizing us”.