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UZBEKISTAN: “To prevent illegal religious materials”

Police raided Grigory Kasparov’s home in Uzbekistan, confiscating his personal Christian books and other “illegal religious materials” from his private home. Kasparov’s verdict imposed a heavy fine on him, and stated that his books had been destroyed before the verdict against him had even been reached. Kasparov’s wife Yelena was later fined under the same “offense,” despite her refusal to sign a self-accusation demanded by the police. Court officials were evasive when Forum 18 pressed for answers.

By Mushfig Bayram

5/13/2014 Uzbekistan (Forum 18) – Mirzo-Ulugbek District Criminal Court in the capital Tashkent on 25 March fined Grigory Kasparov of the officially registered Full Gospel Pentecostal Church for “illegally storing” his own Christian books in his private home. On 11 April his wife Yelena Kasparova was fined for the same “offence,” despite refusing to sign a “confession” police attempted to force from her.

On the evening of 17 March police searched Deacon Kasparov’s home, describing this in the court verdict in his case as “investigation and search operations with the purpose to prevent illegal religious materials.” Police found what they described as “illegally stored religious materials” – 19 Christian books including a songbook, and two computer hard discs. These were all confiscated.

On 25 March Deacon Kasparov was fined 50 times the minimum monthly wage, 4,805,250 Soms (about… 2,100 US Dollars at the inflated official exchange rate)…

Kasparov told the Court that he did not know that his books were “illegal,” and that he had not intended to distribute them.

The Kasparov verdict, which Forum 18 has a copy of, states that the confiscated materials were already destroyed – i.e. before the Court issued the verdict. However, it does not say who destroyed them, which state body ordered the destruction, and exactly when the books were destroyed.

On 11 April Kasparov’s wife Yelena Kasparova was summoned to the local Mirzo-Ulugbek District Police Station by police Captain Ravshan Kayumov. He demanded that she write a statement and sign a police report accusing herself of “illegally” storing religious literature in her home.

Kasparova refused to sign the police report… Despite this, Captain Kayumov asked Mirzo-Ulugbek District Criminal Court to impose an administrative fine. The Court… subsequently fined Kasparova one month’s minimum wage, 96,105 Soms (about… 40 US Dollars).

Captain Kayumov was asked by Forum 18 on 8 May why he opened a case against Kasparova. The Captain claimed that “she lives in the same home with her husband, and also carries responsibility for the illegal storage of the books.”

Captain Kayumov refused to say when and under what charges Kasparova had been fined.

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