Uzbekistan: State close to removing Baptist leadership


Baptists in Uzbekistan have told Forum 18 News Service that they fear the head of the Baptist Union, Pavel Peichev, and the Union’s accountant Yelena Kurbatova will now be removed from their roles leading the registered Baptist Union.

This follows a Criminal Court in the capital Tashkent upholding the criminal conviction of the two, as well as of a Baptist layman Dmitri Pitirimov. The Court also upheld a three-year ban on each holding responsible positions. However, the court overturned massive fines on each.

The three continue to insist that the charges against them of evading taxes and involving children in religious activity without their or their parents’ consent were fabricated. Peichev stated that an appeal to the Supreme Court will probably be made.

"The conviction was unjust and we want it overturned," he told Forum 18. Baptists in Uzbekistan have repeatedly insisted to Forum 18 that the authorities’ main aim was to remove the leadership of the Baptist Union, continuing a pattern of state interference in the leadership of religious communities such as the Muslim and Jewish communities. Also, the Justice Ministry has forced a church website to close.

Report from the Christian Telegraph 

PERSECUTION IN RUSSIA FOR BAPTISTS


The nation of Russia appears to be heading back towards its former Soviet days following its invasion of Georgia and its deteriorating relationship with the west in recent times.

Now there appears to be an orchestrated campaign to apply pressure to Baptist Churches in Russia that have opted out of the government recognised Baptist Union and belong to their own fellowship, the Baptist Council of Churches. The churches have been harassed by state officials, including a state run television propaganda campaign.

AZERBAJAN: BAPTIST PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE IS STILL JAILED


Azerbaijan’s Baptist prisoner of conscience Hamid Shabanov has been ordered – in a closed hearing he and his defence lawyer were not informed of – to be detained for another two months, reports Forum 18 News Service.

“The judge called the latest hearing without even informing Hamid’s lawyer,” Ilya Zenchenko of the Baptist Union told Forum 18. “This was a clear violation.” The defence’s request that Shabanov be freed pending possible trial was rejected.

However, Baptists have welcomed his transfer to Balakan District, in north-western Azerbaijan, which is next to Pastor Shabanov’s home Zakatala District.

Difficulties continue for religious communities, a Baku Protestant church, Cathedral of Praise, having had its place of worship confiscated.

Report from the Christian Telegraph