http://www.barnabasfund.org On 12 January, Natalya Pitirimova, Accountant for the Bible Society of Uzbekistan, was fined for “violating procedures” over the import of two shipments of Bibles and children’s Bibles. Ministry officials ordered the Bible Society to return the Bibles to Russia at their own cost, saying, “There is no need to import Bibles into Uzbekistan since there’s an electronic version on the internet.”
Nearly 15,000 copies of the Bible in Uzbek and Karakalpak were seized by Tashkent City Customs in 2008 and 2010 and the State Religious Affairs Committee has refused to release the Bibles, despite a number of appeals from Christian churches.
Pitirimova received a phone call from Judge Suleymanov on 12 January summoning the Bible Society to the hearing that same day. She informed the judge that the Director was away and requested that the hearing be postponed, saying that she “could not appear before the court as I do not hold a leading position.” However the judge decided he would hear the case in their absence.
Uzbekistan is one ofthe worst countries in Central Asia for religious freedom, and people of various faiths and denominations are regularly imprisoned for their religious activities.
Christian leader David (Dmitri) Shestakov was released on 21 January after four years in prison but news has emerged that he has been placed under “administrative supervision”, which includes a curfew and a ban on visiting certain public places. In addition, he cannot leave his home city without prior police permission, and must report to the regional police at least three times a month. Local Christians fear the police will do all they can to bring another case against him and send him back to prison.
- Pray that the Lord will guide the Uzbekistan Bible Society in how they deal with the situation regarding the Bibles. Pray that the authorities will have compassion and release the Bibles.
- Pray for all Christians in Uzbekistan, that they may be free to witness and worship. Pray particularly for David Shestakov, that he may be left alone by the authorities and not live in fear of harassment.