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Pastor Of Belarusian Evangelical Church Faces Trial


Pastor Vyachaslau Hancharenka

Pastor Vyachaslau Hancharenka

MINSK -- The pastor of the New Life Evangelical Christian Church in Minsk will go to trial on September 30, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Vyachaslau Hancharenka has officially been accused of obstruction of justice.

Kiryl Mazouka, the deputy prosecutor of Minsk's Maskouski district, said on September 29 that the Hancharenka-led parish has not allowed police to enter the building housing the New Life Church since August 24.

Minsk officials visited the church last month and told the congregation's leaders that the church building must be vacated by August 19 and that the building's keys be turned over to them.

Meanwhile, members of the congregation have remained in the church around the clock since August 24, refusing to vacate the building -- an old barn in the Minsk suburbs that held livestock in the Soviet era.

It was converted by parishioners into a church in the early 1990s.

Minsk authorities say the property was "illegally privatized by the church."
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