New Life church believers now forbidden to gather in the street

The church was seized, and the worshippers began to gather under the building. Now they can’t do that either; they can be put behind bars.

Protestant believers celebrate Easter near the New Life Church building. More than a month ago, the building was taken away from the Protestants. However, church believers are not going to give up their views. Minsk, Belarus. April 3, 2021.
Photo: AB / Belsat

Minsk Protestant church “New Life” has received two letters from the authorities. One letter contains a well-known fact: the building in Sukharava where the believers gathered will be demolished, and the church is asked to pay half a million rubles in land tax, from which religious institutions are exempt.

In the second letter Valiantsin Kanapliou, deputy head of Maskouski District Administration of Minsk, said that the church did not get permission for meetings of believers on the square in front of the building, which means that these meetings were illegal. The official believes that the area in front of the selected church is not “a place specially designated for religious ceremonies.”

In other words, believers may now be fined or arrested under Article 24.23 of the Code of Administrative Offences (if they are found to have repeatedly done so, they may even be sentenced to jail for up to three years under Article 342-2 of the Criminal Code).

The conflict between the authorities and believers began in 2005. Then Minsk officials decided to evict the church from the building, which had been converted from a former cowshed in 1992. The believers refused to leave the church, built it at their own expense, and even organized a hunger strike. The situation drew international attention.

City officials temporarily backed down, but then the conflict erupted again. The bailiffs sent letters and held talks, but the believers would not give in. The authorities plan to build a school on the site of the church.

In November 2020, “New Life” believers recorded a video in which they condemned the violence of the law enforcers, untruthful testimonies in courts, and repression against citizens of Belarus for their views.

belsat. eu