31 August 2015, Monday, 13:51

Salihorsk residents have to sponsor church construction

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Residents of Salihorsk will pay monthly duties until 2017 on the construction of the Orthodox church complex.

City residents will have to pay monthly, which they have already been doing for several years on a “voluntary-compulsory” basis, for the construction of the Orthodox church complex in Salihorosk until January 1, 2017. The decision was taken by the Salihorsk district council last year, but it is only recently that it was made public, Viasna human rights centre reports.

A request to continue financing of the construction of the Nativity of Christ Church was filed to the local authorities by local protopriest Mikalai Rozau. The district council extended the validity of its previous decision “On holding monthly days of volunteer labour”, under which people have to pay for the church construction. It's worth noting that the information about the misuse and embezzlement of the collected funds appeared in 2012. Representatives of civil society of Salihorsk sent a request to the local executive committee asking to organise the public control over the funds. It was supposed to form a public audit commission, but the authorities did not welcome the initiative.

Local representatives of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC) expressed their concern about the escalation of the situation of the so called voluntary-compulsory payments. Human rights defenders remind the government bodies that their primary duty is not giving preferences to certain confessions by means of mandatory donations, but creating equal conditions for all confessions, facilitating a dialogue between them and guaranteeing citizens the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. BHC representatives ask to inform them about all facts of the enforced participation in the so called “monthly days of volunteer labour” and are ready to provide legal aid in connection with the issue.

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