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Trial Of Uzbek Protestant Begins

The trial of Aimurat Khayburahmanov, a Protestant from northwestern Uzbekistan, has begun in Nukus, the capital of the Karakalpakstan region.

Khayburahmanov is charged with teaching religion without official approval, and with establishing or participating in an extremist religious organization, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Khayburahmanov was detained on June 14. The start of his trial was delayed numerous times.

If convicted, he faces a possible sentence of between five and 15 years in prison.

According to the Forum 18 News Service, which monitors religious freedom, the Karakalpakstan autonomous region maintains a particularly harsh religious policy, with all non-state-controlled Muslim and non-Russian Orthodox activity being a criminal offense.

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