Pressurization of ‘New Life’ church continues

2009 2009-08-06T20:36:24+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Minsk city authorities have increased pressure on the New Life charismatic church. The European Radio for Belarus has been informed about it by the church lawyer Siarhei Lukanin.

Viachaslau Hancharenka, the church pastor, was summoned to the prosecutor office of the Maskouski district for 7 August, in connection with the three-year battle between the parishioners and the authorities for the building of the church.

‘Our pastor was summoned to a prosecutor's office in connection with this matter. He was also threatened with imprisonment. At the same time, the whole thing ended withy a court ruling a fine of 350 000 rubles (about $124), Siarhei Lukanin said.

Besides, the authorities again transferred 37.5 million rubles to the church's bank account allegedly as a compensation for the building (which means $8 per one square meter). The Protestants returned the money back.

The church was also visited by workers from the Water and Sewage Company Minskvodakanal. They intended to check if the church was illegally connected to the water supply system. Privately, the workers told the parishioners that they were fulfilling an order from the security services.

‘In a private conversation they told that in fact for the first time in the history of their organization they received a letter from the KGB’, Siarhei Lukanin said. ‘In the letter KGB officers, asked, to put it mildly, to find out whether there is water in our building, and if yes, where we get it from’.

In the words of Siarhei Lukanin, the authorities have intent to resolve the problem with New Life, using force.

The legal proceedings between the church and city authorities concerning demolishing of the church building in Kavaliou Street, 72 started in October 2005. In January 2009 the Supreme Economic Court upheld the decision of Minsk city executive committee to seize the land and later buy the building of the church for 37.5 million rubles (about $13 280). On 16 March Minsk city executive committee offered the church to discuss construction of the church near Sharanhovich Street, Minsk ring road, at a land lot of about 0.4 ha, which is four times less than the one offered earlier.