A Baptist Christian and former mission leader arrested on Sunday, November 28 in Tashkent was still being subjected to lengthy police interrogations in the Uzbek capital yesterday. Nikolai Andreus is being threatened with a two-year prison term, Christian sources in the Central Asian state report.Andreus was detained as he was traveling by bus to a Sunday morning worship service. A police lieutenant on the bus demanded to see his identity documents and then searched Andreus' bag, uncovering some 200 Christian tracts in the Uzbek language.The officer then halted the bus near the Khamzin district police station, just two stops from Andreus' home. The Christian was interrogated by an officer named Karimov, deputy head of the police station, who reportedly threatened and tried to intimidate Andreus, accusing him of "anti-state activities."Two hours later, police officers conducted a search of Andreus' home in the presence of the required four witnesses, but without authorization from the procurator, sources told Compass. The officials confiscated all the Christian literature they found.During the search, Andreus' daughter Nataliya asked the police officers what would happen to her father. The most senior policeman told her he faces a two-year prison term.Andreus was later transferred to the criminal department of the police, where he was again interrogated. He was asked where he had obtained the literature, where he was taking it, who it was for and why. The interrogators tried to force him to admit he was guilty of anti-state activity, missionary activity (which is illegal in Uzbekistan) and the distribution of anti-Islamic propaganda.Andreus insisted that the books had been imported from Russia two years ago, before restrictions were imposed on the importation of religious literature. He denied he had conducted anti-state activity.Although freed at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Andreus was instructed to report the next morning for further questioning at the Chief Police Department. The interrogations lasted from 10 in the morning until 8 in the evening."Only one of the three officers interrogating him gave his name," a source told Compass. "He was a police officer called Rakhmonov. The other two were in civilian clothes." Andreus believes they were officers of the National Security Ministry (the former KGB)."The whole day they tried to get him to admit that he is guilty of missionary activity, distributing literature and, through this, helping to destabilize the political situation in the country," the source added.He was allowed to return home for the night, but his identity documents were not returned to him. When Andreus protested that he would need his passport to vote in the upcoming December 5 elections, he was told that he did not understand the law: no one in prison was allowed to keep their documents, let alone take part in voting, the police explained.His interrogations resumed again on Tuesday, November 30.Andreus had been deputy head of the Khudo Khokhlasa (If God Wills It) mission in Tashkent until it was banned by Uzbek authorities in 1997.In separate news, Compass has learned from sources in Uzbekistan that local Mahalla Committee authorities in Nukus have refused to give the necessary signature on the registration application of the Full Gospel congregation in the city. "All the other signatures on the registration application are there," the source reported, "but obviously the local authorities do not want the church to be registered."Although the church has asked the Mahalla Committee to issue a statement spelling out why they will not sign the application, the committee has so far refused. The church filed its registration application with the Karakalpakstan Ministry of Justice in Nukus in early October.The Nukus Full Gospel Church became well known when three of its leading members were arrested and sentenced to heavy prison terms earlier in the year, including the pastor, Rashid Turibayev. The three were among five Christian prisoners freed on President Islam Karimov's orders in August, after intensive protests from around the world.

Related Elsewhere The U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom examines Uzbekistan's religious freedom from political and societal perspectives, and remarks on what the U.S. government has done in response to human rights infringements in the country.Earlier Christianity Today stories on Uzbekistan include "Uzbek Pastor Faces Drug Charges" (April 26, 1999) and "Uzbekistan Religion Law Jeopardizes Evangelism" (October 5, 1998)For more on Uzbekistan, see Britannica.com's article on the country.