Officials threaten to criminalise meetings New Life Church Belarus


Eastern Europe


Church service on the parking lot of the New Life Church in Minsk. Photo YouTube, Церковь Новая Жизнь Минск

The New Life Pentecostal Church meetings might become punishable with up to a two-year jail term. That is what the Belarus authorities warned the church members for.

The Minsk City Administration and the local police threatened the New Life Pentecostal Church with liquidation in court. That is reported by Forum 18. If the church were officially liquidated, all its activities would be punishable by law.

In January 2022, the Belarusian Criminal Code forbids organisation or participation in activity "by an unregistered political party, foundation, civil or religious organisation.

The threat is just another step in limiting the church's activities, it seems. In February 2021, officials evicted the congregation from the church building it had used since 2002. No explanation was given for why the congregation could no longer meet in its building.

Parking lot

Since its eviction from the church building, the congregation has met every Sunday in the car park next to the church. Regardless of the weather, church members gather for an hour every Sunday. They live stream all the services on YouTube as well.

Pastor Goncharenko said to Forum 18 that he believes that God takes care of the church. "So many times, the authorities came and threatened us, but our church is still functioning."

He argues that the authorities should compensate the congregation with another plot of land or a new building. "We have nowhere to go and are emotionally attached to this place", he stated.

The authorities told him that the congregation could receive a plot of land if they would pay land taxes for the whole period in which the church used its building. This amount would total up to 155,000 euros, much too expensive for the congregation. Therefore, New Life Church wants to write a letter to the authorities, asking them to return the church building or allow the congregation to meet in the parking lot.

Refusal to answer

The authorities refuse to explain why the church should be closed down. Forum 18 attempted to reach police services and the Ideology Department of Minsk City, but they refused to answer.

Belarus has imposed several strict restrictions on the exercise of religious activities. All events of religious organisations have to be registered with the state. Public meetings without permission are also forbidden.



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