’New Life’ applies to Supreme Court
Believers of the Minsk Protestant Church New Life lodged with the Supreme Court and appeal against the verdict of the Maskouski district court in Minsk by which it the church is sentenced to pay more than $100,000 for alleged harm to the environment (the soil samples that were taken from the car parking near the church allegedly contained excessive amounts of oil products).
As stated by Siarhei Lukanin, the New Life lawyer, the believers don’t hope for reversal of the court verdict, but decided to pass through all national court instances to have the right to apply to the international institutions.
On 24-25 January the believers’ appeal was considered by Judge Alena Shylko. Siarhei Lukanin said that the state officials had taken soil samples from the car parking without witnesses, that’s why the believers weren’t sure if these samples were really taken from the parking or from somewhere else. By the way, before the believers bought a cowshed and reconstructed it into a temple, there was a dump of worn car details and bodies, which they cleared.
Siarhei Lukanin also drew the attention of the court to the fact that the committee of natural resources and environmental protection was subordinated to the Minsk city executive committee that had deprived the believers of the piece of land in 2005, and then deprived them of their temple. Now it is formally the properties of authorities and it is just a question of time when the authorities will send a penetration team to the temple, which the believers are not going to surrender.
Several days ago the believers submitted a letter to Aliaksandr Lukashenka in which they stated that the fine of 271,548,725 rubles is an economical sanction against the church.
The believers proposed establishing a special commission for resolving the conflict between the church and the Minsk authorities with the participation of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, the Belarusian OSCE office, human rights organizations and leaders of Protestant confessions.
Having learned that recently Lukashenka’s administration answered to journalists that they had never received any letters from New Life, Siarhei Lukanin expressed his indigntation:
’It is revolting, because it’s not true. During the last five years we have submitted three letters to the presidential administration and this was the fourth one. We put at our website a photocopy of the mail receipt confirming that the letter had been sent on 1 March.’
The believers continued keeping a duty at their temple, as they used to do in 2007, when the temple could be seized by the riot police. However, it doesn’t impede serving Sunday masses and teaching children at Sunday school.