KESTON NEWS SERVICE
Issue 10, Article 17, 13 October 2000
Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.
UZBEKISTAN: PASTOR FREED UNDER AMNESTY (13 Oct). Forced from
his job because of his Christian ministry, Pastor Kim was arrested and tried
without the presence of his lawyer. Over one year and a half later, he has been
given amnesty, but not cleared of his conviction of fraud, which his church
maintains was a false charge. Meanwhile, another Protestant leader and his
wife are seriously ill.
Friday 13 October 2000
UZBEKISTAN: PASTOR FREED UNDER AMNESTY
By Felix Corley, Keston News Service
An ethnic Korean pastor imprisoned for more than a year and a half has been
freed under Uzbekistan's prisoner amnesty announced by President ISLAM
KARIMOV at the beginning of October, Keston News Service has confirmed.
STANISLAV KIM, pastor of a registered Protestant church in the town of
Chirchik, was freed in the evening of 9 October from a labour camp in
Tabaksai, some 10 kilometres from Chirchik.
In a telephone interview from his home in Chirchik on 13 October, Kim
expressed his delight at being free, but was reluctant to discuss his treatment in
the camp. `Prison is prison,' he declared. `It is not very pleasant,' he added with
a laugh. However, he stressed that he had not been beaten in the camp.
Kim, who is 43 and married with two sons, was arrested on 15 February 1999
and sentenced to six years' imprisonment under Articles 205 part 2 and 184 part
3 of the Criminal Code, which cover fraud. Members of his congregation
maintain these charges were false and were levied to punish him for his role as
pastor of the church, an independent congregation meeting in house-church
fellowships. At least a quarter of the 200-member congregation are ethnic
Uzbeks. His trial in June 1999 was closed, and even his lawyer NADEZHDA
SOLOVIEVA was unable to attend.
Kim confirmed to Keston that he had been freed under the presidential amnesty
decree. `This does not mean that they said I was not guilty of the charges,' he
told Keston. `But this is normal under the amnesty.' Asked if he would take
legal action to have the charges revoked, he declared: `I would like to, but it is
difficult. In fact, it is practically impossible.'
Kim, who became a Christian some seven years ago, was a foreman at a large
building company when he became the church's pastor. However, he was
reportedly summoned repeatedly to the mayor's office in Chirchik and told that
he could not both be a pastor and maintain such a responsible job. He was
instructed to leave the church, but when he refused they forced him to resign
from the company. Pressure continuedand when he refused to give up pastoring
the church he was reportedly threatened that unless he paid a massive $5,000
bribe, he would be arrested and imprisoned.
Kim told Keston that his church was registered with the authorities as soon as
Uzbekistan adopted its law on religion in 1991, and was re-registered as soon
as the revised religion law - which made re-registration compulsory - was
adopted in 1998. `We re-registered both times without problems - indeed, we
were one of the first both times.' Kim added that the church continued to
operate during his imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Keston has learnt that Protestant leader NIKOLAI RODZINSKY,
who was freed from prison in Nukus on 29 September in the wake of pressure
from abroad (see KNS 29 September 2000), is seriously ill. Both he and his
wife are suffering from tuberculosis and are receiving treatment as out-patients
at a local clinic in their home town of Takhiatash near Nukus. The couple has
one daughter. (END)