Christians Arrested for Illegal Activity

Nov 27, 2002 01:47 PM EST

NAVOI, Uzbekistan — In a country where unregistered religious activity is illegal, a Baptist was arrested for hosting a small church in his home. Nikolai Nikulin's was sentenced to 10 days in prison for the humble seven-member church he led at home.

Police raided Nikulin's home, confiscating and destroying the group's Christian books. The local Baptist fellowship called for prayer on behalf of the "illegally sentenced Nikulin," and demanded the impounded literature be returned.

Elsewhere in northwest Uzbekistan, the leaders of the Mir Presbyterian Church face up to three years in prison for the "participation in the activity of illegal religious organizations."

"During the raid on our church, the police forced ethnic Karakalpak, Kazakh and Uzbek members of the congregation to write statements indicating the reasons they come to our church," pastor Konstantin Kmit said. "...As the police took statements only from people of Muslim origin, we can infer that the authorities intend to charge us with proselytism, which is prohibited by Uzbek law."

Authorities have also accused church leaders of luring minors into their activities. However, he maintained that the parents of the youth have signed declarations allowing for the Christian education of their children.

By Pauline J.