Head of State Religious Committee supports closure of New Life church
During a special press-conference on 15 July in Minsk, Leanid Huliaka, head of the State Committee for Religious and National Affairs, spoke in favour of the closure of the New Life Protestant Church by Minsk city authorities.
According to Mr.Huliaka, the church failed to register at its address at 72 Kavaliova St.
‘It was not reregistered, since its building was not meant for services. The priests turned the building into a church without permission. That is why Minsk authorities cannot register the association at the address,’ said the official.
Mr.Huliaka also said he had had a number of meetings with priest of the New Life church Viachaslau Hancharenka and its legal representative Siarhei Lukanin to consider the situation.
‘Minsk city authorities used to offer New Life a different location for the construction of the church. However, the priest rejected the offer. Moreover, the city authorities transferred BYR 37.5 million of compensation to New Life’s account. This year, New Life returned the money to Minsk city authorities. New Life was also offered to have services and register its legal address at the Sukno community recreation center. All this was turned down,’ said Mr.Huliaka.
At the same time, New Life’s lawyer Siarhei Lukanin says the official is not quite right in his statements.
‘There were no official offers concerning the registration at the Sukno center. Moreover, we have official replies by all the district administrations of Minsk, saying the church will not be granted premises. S for the compensation, I would not mention the money at all, for BYR 37.5 million for a building of 1,700 square meters is some USD 8 for a square meter, while an average cost of it in Minsk is currently round USD 1,000 per meter,’ said Mr.Lukanin.
He also declared that Minsk city authorities had not allocated any land for the construction of a new church building, but just mentioned such possibility.