On February 17, security forces made an unexpected visit to the New Life Protestant church which is located in Sukharava residential area of Minsk.
At that very moment, around 11 am, the believers were saying prayers.
“They cut down the door, entered and said that they were going to make an inventory of property in accordance with the court ruling. We were ordered to leave the building; in the contrary case, administrative sanctions might have been imposed on us, they warned,” church secretary Lera told Belsat TV.
Video by New Life church member Andrey Kim
The believers came out of the church and asked for permission to bring the belongings and other things along, but they were only allowed to take their stuff from the office.
In his address, Pastor Vyachaslau Hancharenka said that bailiffs and lots of police came to evict the church. They demand the execution of the court ruling made in 2009; failing to find it legal, the church representatives have contested it for a long time.
“Like for the whole country, the times of change have come for us now,” he added.
It should be recalled that in November 2020, New Life members recorded a video, in which they condemed police violence and abuse in the country, perjury in courts as well as persecuting Belarusian citizens for their views.
The relations between the authorities and the parishioners became tense as far back as 2005. The believers refused to vacate the church building which had been constructed at the premises of an old cowshed by the force and at the expense of the Protestant community. Amid the unprecedented pressure exerted by the officials, they launched a hunger strike, which caught the public eye in Belarus and abroad. After a short period of relative calm, the conflict broke out again. Bailiffs sent numerous letters, tried to hold negotiations, but the parish keeps staying the ground. On February 16, they got a fine over their non-consent to be dispossessed.
The city authorities say there are plans to build a school on the site of the church.