KESTON NEWS SERVICE
Issue 9, Article 24-25, 29 September 2000
Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.
I. UZBEKISTAN: PROTESTANT LEADER FREED. Keston has confirmed
that Rodzinsky was set free at 1pm today.
II. CRIMEA: OFFICIALS JUSTIFY AMERICAN TEACHER EXPULSIONS
A procuracy official has defended the expulsion from Ukraine at
the end of June of two United States citizens who worked as English teachers,
claiming they violated the law on the legal status of aliens. They were accused
of carrying out religious activity at their school, which is prohibited by the law.
The two and their supporters in Crimea deny the accusations.
Friday 29 September 2000
UZBEKISTAN: PROTESTANT LEADER FREED
by Felix Corley, Keston News Service
Protestant Christian NIKOLAI RODZINSKY was finally freed from prison in
Nukus at 1 pm today (29 September), Keston News Service has confirmed
from sources in Uzbekistan. Rodzinsky's lawyer TIMUR and the pastor of the
Nukus-based Mir Presbyterian Church VLADIMIR KIM took the release
document to the prison and Rodzinsky was then freed. After stopping briefly at
the Mir church they then travelled directly to Rodzinsky's home in the town of
Takhiatash near Nukus, where Rodzinsky was reunited with his wife. She had
been able to meet him briefly yesterday in prison.
Rodzinsky, who is aged about 40, had spent two months in prison after being
arrested for helping to organise a children's camp. Investigators subsequently
accused him of drugs offences after claiming to have found 0.2 grammes of
opium in his pocket, but these charges were dropped yesterday and his release
ordered (see KNS 28 September 2000).
The Mir Church lost its registration as a result of holding the camp, but is
trying to regain it. (END)
Friday 29 September 2000
CRIMEA: OFFICIALS JUSTIFY AMERICAN TEACHER EXPULSIONS
by Anna Vassilyeva, Keston News Service
A procuracy official has defended the expulsion from Ukraine at the end of
June of two United States citizens who worked as English teachers, claiming
they violated the law on the legal status of aliens. They were accused of
carrying out religious activity at their school, which is prohibited by the law.
The two and their supporters in Crimea deny the accusations.
AVERILLE CARLISLE and CYNTHIA MEGGINSON worked under contract
at secondary school 19 in the Crimean port of Sevastopol for almost seven
years. However, in 1998 the procuracy began an investigation into their alleged
religious activity at school. When the investigation started the American
teachers left Ukraine temporarily and the case was abandoned, but was
resumed after Carlisle and Megginson returned to the school in 1999.
Senior assistant of the city prosecutor, MARIA SIDOROVA, told Keston on 22
August that the investigation began after a group of parents complained about
Carlisle and Megginson's teaching methods. She claimed they attributed
numbers to children instead of calling them by their names, made students keep
diaries, which they were instructed not to show to parents, but to the teachers
only and handed out punishments which included writing `I have misbehaved
and I am sorry for this' on the blackboard up to 100 times.
Sidorova alleged that the school was practically turned into a Baptist
community and a number of teachers became Baptists. Those who failed to
attend religious seminars risked losing their job. The school library contained a
section of Baptist literature, while Christmas and Easter were celebrated
according to the Western calendar. The American teachers conducted
psychological tests in class, she claimed, and it is not known what the results
were used for. `One of the teachers of the school, who is Orthodox, complained
to us about the situation at the school,' added Sidorova. `There was also a
complaint from the Crimean Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate.' However,
she refused to show Keston the names of the dissatisfied parents or their
complaints, saying that the information was confidential and `divulging it may
affect children who remain students of this school'. Sidorova blamed GALINA
ERYOMENKO, then headteacher of the school, who herself became a Baptist
after getting to know the American teachers, for allowing the religious activity
to take place.
During a search by the procurator's office, religious literature and Bibles were
found in the classroom where Carlisle and Megginson worked. The two
explained that by not having enough space to keep those books at home. It was
also discovered that religious gatherings were taking place in their flat.
According to Ukrainian law, religious communities may undertake religious
activity without official registration, but this right does not extend to foreign
citizens, who must first gain registration in the department for religious affairs.
OLEG KOTLYAROV of the religious affairs department of Sevastopol
Administration told Keston by telephone on 4 August that his office had not
been involved in the case which, he said, had been led by the procuracy and the
SBU, the successor to the KGB.
The procuracy found that Carlisle and Megginson's activity violated the law.
`They have violated article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which says that
the Church is separated from the school, and article 8 of the law on education,
which prohibits involving students in religious activity during the educational
process,' declared Sidorova. She confirmed that the SBU was involved but
declined to give specific details.
The head of the SBU press service in Sevastopol, YURI KONDRATYEV, told
Keston by telephone on 22 August that the SBU had received a complaint from
the parents' committee, `but we have not been dealing with this case and
transferred it to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.'
Acting principal of the school OLGA NASTENKO refused to discuss the
expulsions with Keston on 17 August, saying that she was a very young
principal and very busy. Keston has learnt that the previous principal who
invited the American teachers to the school died recently.
Contacted by telephone on 23 August, Eryomenko refused to give an interview
from her office at school 19. But speaking to Keston later from home, she said
that the contract for Carlisle and Megginson, signed between the administration
of the school and the Association of teachers-consultants of Virginia, allowed
Bible studies to be conducted. She denied most of the accusations, including
the claim that Carlisle and Megginson had attributed numbers to children,
though she admitted that another teacher who gave lessons once a week for 200
students at once had done this. Eryomenko declared that Megginson and
Carlisle had helped a lot at school and took care of a handicapped girl, twice
bringing wheelchairs for her from America. She confirmed that the two did
originally teach Bible at school, but stopped after being warned by the
procuracy. `No one has ever expressed any dissatisfaction about the work of the
American teachers to me as headteacher,' she declared. She regarded the threats
to fire teachers for not attending religious seminars as `complete nonsense'. She
said that the two Americans prayed in the other teachers' presence `only in their
Eryomenko told Keston that last May, when clouds began to gather over the
two teachers, RICHARD HARDISSON, an employee of Kiev Linguistic
University and a Baptist pastor who assisted in inviting the two to Sevastopol,
met Kotlyarov and enquired whether the two teachers had violated Ukrainian
law, to which Kotlyarov replied that they had not so far.
The mother of a boy at the school described the two Americans as `highly
moral'. She told Keston by telephone on 23 August that their son was proud to
have known them. Sidorova also admitted that the `children loved them and
enjoyed taking part in the performances and festivities'. But she had no
sympathy for the two Americans, who were upset by their expulsion. `They
were trying to justify their activity by not being aware of the restrictions of the
law.' She said that this decision will not affect other foreign specialists if they
abide by the law. She reported that the US Embassy in Ukraine sent them a
note of protest, which she considers unjust.
Keston contacted the US embassy in Kiev about the case. On 9 August MARK
TAPLIN, the embassy press officer, declared that under the US Privacy Act the
embassy would be unable to discuss individual cases unless those individuals
gave specific permission for the information to be released. Keston also tried to
contact Carlisle and Megginson in the United States, but emails and telephone
calls went unanswered. (END)