Evangelical Church leaders seek action over deportation of Ukrainian Bishop from Uzbekistan
The Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine has written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, K. Hyrshchenko, asking that Ukraine defend the rights and legitimate interests of Ukrainian nations during visits to Uzbekistan.
This was prompted by the deportation of Bishop Viacheslav Nesteruk, Head of the All-Ukrainian Union of Churches of Evangelical Baptists by the border guards at Tashkent Airport.
The letter states that this took place a month ago, on 30 October 2010, yet there has still been no explanation from either the Uzbekistan authorities, or from Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Council believes that the lack of a proper note of protest from the Foreign Ministry could subject more Ukrainians to the threat of deportation from Uzbekistan because of their religious convictions. They call on the Ministry to use all diplomatic means to prevent the recurrence of such incidents either in Uzbekistan or in other countries with which Ukraine has diplomatic relations.
It has also demanded an official explanation regarding the danger and likelihood of deportation for Ukrainian religious figures visiting Uzbekistan in a private or work-related capacity.
The Council’s Secretariat inform that Bishop Viacheslav Nesteruk has also sent a letter to the Ministry reporting this violation of his rights as a Ukrainian national.
From a report by the Institute for Religious Freedom