On July 13 in the town of Gulistan, 15 officials raided the home of Shakar Dosova, a Pentecostal pastor. Dosova was away, but members of his church were meeting there. Police seized Christian books and pamphlets and questioned everyone at the meeting.

In August an Uzbek judge fined Dosova's wife, Tamara, and deacon Sanjar Jabarov 40,000 soms each (equivalent to $35 U.S.) for holding a meeting of an unregistered religious group.

Dosova said during a recent telephone interview that his church had tried to register three times before the raid. After the fines were assessed, the church tried a fourth time. Deacon Jabarov said a state official "simply tore up our [registration] documents, saying that we had come on the wrong day."

In such ways, government officials in Uzbekistan are attempting to stop all unregistered religious activity and are throwing roadblocks in the path of church leaders seeking registration.

Under Article 240 of the Uzbek administrative code, all religious organizations must be registered with authorities. Christians say registrations of new congregations are at a standstill. But the raids continue.

In the past year, officials have raided unregistered Baptist and Presbyterian congregations. Leaders in both churches have attempted to register with the government, but are unable to get a ruling.

Konstantin Kmit, pastor of Peace Presbyterian Church in Nukus, said a local official transferred his registration application to a national office, which would not consider the application without the local official's ruling. "It's a vicious circle," Kmit said.

Controls on religion

A secular state, Uzbekistan supports Sunni Islam and permits a handful of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches to operate. The government ...

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