By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest

Pastor David (Dmitri) Shestakov is still facing restrictions after being released from detention, Christians say.
Pastor David (Dmitri) Shestakov is still facing restrictions after being released from detention, Christians say.

BUDAPEST/TASHKENT (BosNewsLife)– A frail Christian pastor who was released from prison in Uzbekistan last month still faced severe restrictions on his freedom Saturday, February 19, and authorities plan to prosecute other believers for involvement in an unregistered local Baptist church, Christians said.

Pastor David (Dmitri) Shestakov cannot leave his home between 9pm and 6am, is barred from going to cafes, bars or restaurants and cannot leave his home city of Andijan without prior police permission, Christians with close knowledge about his situation added. Christians often speak on condition of anonymity, amid security concerns.  

The church leader, who is married with three daughters, already served the majority of his four-year sentence what his supporters described as “a harsh labor camp”, where he reportedly suffered serious health problems due to a lack of food and extreme temperatures.

After his release, David was given the maximum initial term of administrative supervision – one year –  which is usually reserved for violent offenders, according to trial observers. Breaching the regulations could lead to a fine, more supervision, or even a prison term of up to four years, according to advocacy group Forum 18, which closely monitored the case. 


Local Christians have said they fear police will try to bring a case against the pastor and send him back to prison because of his Christian activities and to “crush the church.”

It comes amid reports that authorities who raided a Christian meeting in Syrdarya Region of central Uzbekistan, are preparing to prosecute several of the Christians present.

In early February, police reported that they are planning to prosecute Pastor Andrey and other local Christians under the code of Administrative Offenses for “violation of the law on religious organizations” and “illegal storage, production, import or distribution of religious materials,” according to human rights groups. 

The announcement came after a dozen police officials raided the the home of Pastor Andrey Shevchenko on January 6 while some 25 members of his unregistered local Baptist church were  gathered “to celebrate the baptism of Christ,” explained advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC). 


They allegedly forced some of the believers to write statements to prove alleged crimes. Officials also confiscated DVDs, CDs and Christian books from  the officially registered Bible Society of Uzbekistan.

Police reportedly told the pastor that the literature would be sent to the State Religious Affairs Committee in the capital Tashkent for “expert analysis,” which resulting in upcoming prosecution for alleged law violations.

The reported crackdown on devoted Christians has been linked by critics to attempts by perceived autocratic President Islam Karimov to tightly control, and increase, his power base in the predominantly Islamic nation of nearly 28 million people. 

Western observers have said that Karimov takes a ruthlessly authoritarian approach to all forms of what he regards as religious extremism and those opposing his rule over the former Soviet republic.

The few Western observers who monitored parliamentary elections in 2004 condemned them as having failed to meet international standards and noted that all the candidates supported the long-time president. (With editing by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos). 



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