ICC NOTE: After a ten year ordeal, an Uzbek pastor and his family have finally been granted asylum in the United States. According to World Watch Monitor, Pastor Dmitry Shestakov was found guilty of for organizing religious groups and distribution of materials considered to be threatening to public safety in 2007. He was released in 2011 and eventually made his way to Ukraine with his family where he received refugee status from the United Nations. Uzbekistan is a Central Asian country that has been recently in the news on the account no one is sure towards the health of its long time president. The most populous Central Asian country is also the highest ranked among its neighbors on the World Watch list at number 15.
9/2/2016 Uzbekistan (World Watch Monitor) – Finally, their journey is over. Three years since fleeing Uzbekistan – following four years in a labour camp, house arrest and death threats – Pastor Dmitry Shestakov has arrived in the United States, where he and his family have been granted asylum.
It’s been almost 10 years since Shestakov was first detained, after a raid on his Full Gospel Church in Andijan, south-eastern Uzbekistan. The date was 21 January, 2007. Four years to the day later, he was released.
Shestakov had been found guilty of two offences: the organisation of religious groups and manufacture/distribution of materials that “threaten social safety and public peace”.
He was sent to a prison camp in central Uzbekistan, 450 miles from his home, making it difficult for his wife, Marina, and three daughters, Maria, Alexandra and Vera, to visit.
When eventually he was released, only two church members went to collect him.
“No-one else dared to come, because they’re afraid to attract unwanted attention due to their connection with him,” a charity worker with Open Doors, which advocates for Christians like Shestakov, said afterwards. Their name was withheld to protect their security. “Pastor Dmitry has to be very careful and everything he does will be strictly monitored. This includes the people he will be talking to, everything he says, everywhere he goes, and much more.”
Shestakov himself said he had been “ordered to follow strict guidelines and regulations”.
He added: “I am a pastor and I want to serve God, but I have to find a wise way to do this.”
But two years later it became apparent that staying in Uzbekistan was no longer possible. After being made to ask the police for written permission to leave his house, and then receiving death threats, Dmitry Shestakov took his family to Ukraine, where they were granted refugee status by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Then, after another three years, on Tuesday 30 August, Dmitry, Marina and their two youngest daughters – Alexandra (20) and Vera (16) – landed on US soil. They will live in Florida. (Their eldest daughter, Maria, 22, is now married and has stayed in Ukraine with her husband.)