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Belarusian Police Fail To Enter Troubled Evangelical Church

The New Life church used to be a livestock barn.

The New Life church used to be a livestock barn.

MINSK -- Police in Minsk failed to enter the disputed building of the New Life Evangelical Church on September 8, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

A guard at the church refused to let police inside the building and the officers left after a one-hour standoff.

The police had brought ambulances and firefighters with them.

Parishioners of the church have been spending days and nights in shifts inside the church since August 24 in an effort to keep the authorities from occupying and confiscating the building.

The building has been the legal property of the city authorities since August 24.

It used to be a barn for livestock during Soviet times but was privatized and turned into a place of worship by the New Life church in the early 1990s.

Minsk officials say the building was privatized illegally by the congregation.

The church's lawyer, Syarhey Lukanin, called the police's attempt to enter the church today "a provocation."