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Forum18 – New Life, the Minsk-based charismatic church forced to meet at its disused cowshed for worship services, looks set to have the land beneath that building confiscated by the municipal authorities, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. “They have declared war on us, but we will not give up our land,” New Life’s administrator Vasily Yurevich remarked to Forum 18 on 30 August. “Our members have paid 13,000 US dollars in taxes on it – they can’t say that it’s not ours.” Church members have begun a prayer vigil and plan to defend their land. In a letter dated 23 August but received by the church six days later, Minsk City Executive Committee vice-chairman Mikhail Petrushin announces that body’s 17 August decision to confiscate the plot of land beneath the disused cowshed. Viewed by Forum 18, the text of the decision explains that New Life’s right to the plot – originally granted by the municipal authorities along with its purchase in 2002 – is to be cancelled because the church’s use of the land is “inappropriate” and “not in accordance with its designation”. It orders relevant municipal departments to “take measures by 1 September to regulate the issue of purchasing from New Life Church the property [cowshed] situated on the aforementioned plot” and to make a financial proposal for this purchase once the building’s value has been determined. While the decision suggests that any action would be taken after 1 September, Yurevich told Forum 18 on 31 August that the church has not been contacted by any state department since it received the text. At an emergency meeting on 30 August, New Life members nevertheless decided to conduct a round-the-clock prayer vigil and alert other churches, foreign embassies and human rights organisations, he said, while a conference bringing together members of 50 other Belarusian charismatic churches affiliated to the Full Gospel Association is planned in support of New Life on 10 September…[Go To Full Story]