Amnesty International coordinator met with leader of embattled New Life church
On May 26 a meeting of Amnesty International coordinator on Belarus Lars Bünger with the pastor of Minsk-based charismatic New Life church Vyachaslau Hancharenka (Vyacheslav Goncharenko).
The sides discussed the situation with the congregation. The human rights activist from Switzerland has arrived in Belarus on a three-day visit.
As noted by Vyachaslau Hancharenka, Lars Bünger asked about the details of the recent events around the church and offered its leadership to stay in contact with him constantly.
Since October 2005 legal proceedings were held between the church and city authorities concerning the church building in Kavalyou Street, 72. In January 2009 the Supreme Economic Court upheld the decision of Minsk city executive committee that the land should be seized, and then bought out at 37.5 mln rubles. On March 16 Minsk city executive committee offered in a written form to discuss the issues of construction of a new church building in the area of the ring-road – Sharanhovich Street. The land is 0.4 ha, which is four times less than the tract of land given before.
On May 5 at the common meeting members of the church unanimously voted against this proposal. They were reasoning that the church would have to carry out a number of works and accommodations, which would take about a month and a half or two months, and at least $100,000, while construction of the new church would cost from 3 to 5 mln dollars. Members of the church underlined that thanks to prayers and suffering the church had passed through, the land where the church stands had become sanctified.
The church members see the way out in building a modern church on the land which was given to the church earlier, under a condition of its expanding, and deployment additional funds from city budget for these aims.
In the letter of May 14 the director of the housing authority of Maskouski district of Minsk Dzmitry Shashok offered to the church to vacate the building in Kavalyou Street 72 before June 1. In his written answer the leadership of the church answered that they are set to stay in the building.