"New Life" Church got fined 263 mln rubles
According to Siarhei Lukanin, lawyer of New Life, Church of Religious Association of Full Gospel Churches in the Republic of Belarus, Minsk city committee of natural resources and environmental protection fined the church 262 798 725 rubles (about $91,887) for environmental pollution under Article 15.11 of the Code of Administrative Violations of the Republic of Belarus.
The officials also warned that if the believers refused to pay the fine, they would sue to the Economic Court of Minsk for forced exaction of the sum. Besides, according to Lukanin the committee intends to impose on the religious community another fine, for having no permission to remove the fertile soil layer on the territory of the church.
As the lawyer stated, in the first half of December 2009 officers of the committee took samples of soil from the area near the parking situated near the church for testing the concentration of oil products there. ‘However, they failed to explain why such tests have been never conducted before,’ Lukanin said. According to him, in 2004 there was an unauthorized garbage dump near the parking. Later it was liquidated by efforts of the believers.
Siarhei Lukanin considers the actions of the authorities as another attempt of the authorities to find new means and methods of pressurizing the church with the aim to make it stop its activities.
At the end of 2009 the religious community appealed against the verdict of the Supreme Economic Court of 13 January 2009, according to which the ruling of Minsk city executive committee of 17 August 2005 on depriving the church of its piece of land and the building of the former cowshed in Kavaliou Street, 72 that was reconstructed into a temple. On 5-28 October 2006 the parishioners held a hunger-strike in defense of the temple. This action received much publicity in Belarus and abroad.
On 22 August 2009 Minsk authorities handed to the community representatives the act of passing the temple and the piece of land. The believers refused to sign the document. Since 24 August they have been keeping 24-hour duty in their temple.
On 7 October the Economic Court of Minsk decided to evict the church from the building in Kavaliou Street, 72. On 8 December this ruling came into force.