Uzbek Police Raid Christians' Homes

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

TOSHKENT (Worthy News)-- A Christian in Uzbekistan has been fined and threatened with further punishment after religious literature was seized from his home during a raid by Uzbek police in August, according to Barnabas Aid.

Artur Alpayev was fined 50 times Uzbekistan's minimum monthly wage for storing religious literature at his home in Navoi.

During sentencing, Judge Oltinbek Mansurov said: "We will continue fining you unless you stop storing religious literature in your home."

The judge said that the literature should have been stored in a building belonging to a registered religious organization, but Alpayev is a member of a Christian denomination that refuses on principle to seek state registration.

That same month police also raided Maksim and Tatyana Kostin's home in Tashkent; Christian books and materials were seized, including childrens' Bibles. The Kostin's were singled-out despite being members of an officially registered religious denomination.

The raid on the Kostin's followed an earlier search at the home of Aleksei and Diana Meshkov in Samarkand; among the items confiscated were 21 Christian books -- including two Bibles in Braille -- and 132 biblical broadsides.

Confiscated items are often ordered destroyed by the court.

In Uzbekistan, all religious literature is subject to censorship by the government before it can be privately owned, but there is no law per se that bans individuals from owning religious literature. The only personal prohibition applies to materials that encourage people to change their beliefs or that "distort religious canons".