Uzbekistan: "Lenient" Court Ruling for Protestant Pastor, But Registration No Nearer

Perhaps because of international reporting on the case, a court in Nukus, the capital of the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan in western Uzbekistan, has handed down what many regard as a "lenient" sentence against the leader of a local Protestant church. Members of the "Mir" (Peace) Protestant church, which lost its state registration in 2000, went on trial on 7 June accused under the administrative code of conducting an unlawful service, Keston News Service learnt from local Protestants.

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Azerbaijan: "Overzealous" Police Try To Ban Baptist Service

Just two days after a court in the capital Baku liquidated a Baptist congregation, a local policeman in the small town of Chukhuryurd near Shemakha in central Azerbaijan tried to ban a small Baptist church from meeting, Baptist sources told Keston News Service. "He had heard the news of the Baku church's liquidation on ANS television and came to the local elder last Friday [5 April] and told him the church could not meet on Sunday for worship,"

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Azerbaijan: Police Order Protestant's Deportation

On the day Baku's Protestant Greater Grace church was celebrating Easter, police in the city's central Sabail district tried to forcibly deport a church member, alleging that she had been conducting religious "propaganda". One of the church's pastors, Musfig Bayram, told Keston News Service from Baku that police took Nina Koptseva, a Russian citizen who has a residence permit to live in Baku, to the city's railway station on Sunday morning (31 March), bought her a ticket to the Russian border and tried to place her on the train without any court decision.

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Azerbaijan: "Don't Complain to Foreigners," Religion Chief Tells Believers

As believers who claim their rights have been violated by the state authorities debate and argue over the best way to resolve such violations, Keston News Service has discovered that Rafik Aliev, chairman of the State Committee for Relations with Religious Organisations, has repeatedly warned believers not to take their complaints to foreigners.

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Azerbaijan: Believers Unhappy over State Committee's "Illegal" Demands

In addition to their unhappiness over the very need for re-registration of religious organisations and the way the compulsory re-registration process has been run, believers of a variety of religious denominations have complained to Keston News Service over the demands made of them by the State Committee for Relations with Religious Organizations, which is handling the process.

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Turkmenistan: Further Baptists Fines

Six members of a Baptist congregation in the town of Khazar (formerly Cheleken) were fined in mid-January for holding "illegal services", Keston News Service has learned. The instruction to fine them came from the political police, the KNB (former KGB), the six were told. The Turkmen authorities routinely fine members of unregistered religious congregations for holding religious meetings, even if such meetings take place in private homes.

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Azerbaijan: Two-Week Prison for Pentecostal Leaders

Amid growing pressure on Protestant congregations, two leaders of the unregistered Pentecostal church Living Stones have been arrested and given fifteen-day prison terms, Protestant sources in the Azerbaijani capital Baku have told Keston News Service. The two - Yusuf Farkhadov and Kasym Kasymov - were detained in Sumgait, a town close to Baku, when police and National Security Ministry officers raided a prayer meeting last Friday (18 January) held in a private flat in the town's 9th micro-district.

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