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Court to free missionary in religion case
Church member jailed for original sin classes

ICC Note: Christians in Kazakhstan can breathe a sigh of relief over a court order to free a Unification Church member who had been jailed for preaching on original sin, but still have cause to fear as she is required to pay a fine.

By Julia Duin
03/11/09 Kazakhstan (Washington Times) – A Unification Church missionary jailed in January in Almaty, Kazakhstan, will be freed Wednesday, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Elizaveta “Liza” Drenicheva, 30, who was sentenced to two years in prison on Jan. 9 after her teachings on original sin were classified by the government as a criminal offense, will still be fined about $200 and must pay court costs of about $800. Her sentence will be commuted to the two months she has served.

Although the prosecution asked she be given three years probation, the judge released her with no restrictions. She is free to return to Russia, where she is a citizen.

Unification Church members are considering appealing the guilty verdict, which still stands, to allow its missionaries the right to evangelize in the majority-Muslim Kazakhstan.

Her case had drawn the attention of several human rights groups in the West. The courtroom in which the judge’s decision was delivered included several reporters, a representative from the U.S. State Department and an official representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which safeguards human rights.

Kazakhstan is scheduled to chair the OSCE in 2010. Recent complaints from the OSCE about Kazakhstan’s repression of minority religious groups may have moved the government to nix a restrictive religion law on Feb. 11 and free Miss Drenicheva… [Go To Full Story]