KESTON NEWS SERVICE
Issue 9, Article 24, 28 September 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.
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SUMMARY: Following sustained pressure from senior government officials in
Tashkent - reportedly including Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister - the judicial
authorities in the town of Nukus have today (28 September) dropped all
charges against NIKOLAI RODZINSKY and ordered his release. Senior
officials of the Foreign Ministry, which had informed US diplomats that
Rodzinsky had already been freed at the beginning of the week, felt `betrayed'
that the Nukus authorities had gone ahead on Tuesday and set a trial date.
Rodzinsky is expected to be freed from prison Friday 29 September.


Thursday 28 September 2000
UZBEKISTAN: RELEASE ORDERED FOR PROTESTANT LEADER

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Following sustained pressure from senior government officials in Tashkent -
reportedly including Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister - the judicial authorities in
the town of Nukus in the western Uzbek autonomous republic of
Karakalpakstan have today (28 September) dropped all charges against
NIKOLAI RODZINSKY and ordered his release. He is expected to be freed
from prison tomorrow morning, 29 September.

Rodzinsky, a Christian leader who has been held in prison since his arrest in
July after police broke up a children's camp organised by the Nukus-based Mir
Presbyterian church, was due to go on trial this afternoon at Nukus city court
on charges under Article 276 part 1 of the Uzbek criminal code, which covers
drug offences (see KNS 26 September 2000). However, Keston News Service
has learnt that the judge due to hear the case refused to go ahead after looking
through the paperwork, declaring that there was no basis for the accusation of
drug possession against Rodzinsky. The judge ordered the case to be dropped.

In the wake of the decision the investigator in the case signed a decree today
ordering Rodzinsky's release from prison. Rodzinsky's lawyer, together with
the pastor of the Mir Church, VLADIMIR KIM, took the document to Nukus
prison. However, the head of the prison was not present, so they agreed to
return tomorrow morning with the document to secure Rodzinsky's release.

One source told Keston that there was `great agitation' in the procuracy and the
court over the case and speculated that this was the result of pressure from
Tashkent for Rodzinsky's release and telephone calls to Nukus, including those
from Keston, enquiring about the case. The source added that senior officials of
the Foreign Ministry, which had informed US diplomats that Rodzinsky had
already been freed at the beginning of the week, felt `betrayed' that the Nukus
authorities had gone ahead on Tuesday and set a trial date.

The source noted though that there has been no movement so far in the
attempts by the Mir Church to regain the registration it was stripped of last
July. (END)