No progress in case of New Life church
The New Life Protestant church has not yet received any official explanation from Minsk City Economic Court, which turned down its claim against Minsk city authorities on 13 January. The believers say they are ready to defend their church unless it regains its official status.
On 21 January at a round table discussion on the freedom of conscience Lawyer of the New Life church Siarhei Lukanin commented on the dramatic situation:
‘Shortly after Mrs.Piatkevich took over the post of head of the President’s Administration our case was terminated. We decided to defend our building, because it is our building. It was constructed at our expense and with our hands. As for the hunger-strike, under current economic circumstances there is no use starting it.’
The New Life church has repeatedly tried to protect their rights in court. After their building was confiscated by Minsk city authorities, Protestants went on a 21-day hunger-strike. The church was about to be stormed by the police, but the siege was raised after a number of American and European diplomats came to support the believers.
During the 13 January seminar, representatives of various Christian churches stressed that the state policy in the field of the freedom of conscience had not considerably changed.
The Belarusian authorities continue deporting Catholic priests and putting bans to their missionary and education work in Belarus.
Co-founders of the newly created Belarusian Christian Democracy initiative say they are going to fight for changes in the Belarusian religious legislation, and will assist the New Life church to defend their building.