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Uzbekistan Shuts Down Protestant Churches

Uzbek troops in Andijon (file photo) (RFE/RL) May 17, 2006 -- Uzbek authorities today said that they have closed down two Protestant churches on charges of violating the country's law on religious organizations.

A Justice Ministry statement says the Seventh-Day Adventist church and the Christian Protestant church in the central city of Samarkand are also accused of illegally proselytizing among local residents.

Also today, court proceedings against the local branch of the U.S.-based Central Asian Free Exchange (CAFE) nongovernmental organization continued in the eastern city of Quqon (Kokand).

The hearings started on May 16. Uzbek officials accuse CAFE of proselytizing in violation of the country's legislation.

CAFE is registered as a humanitarian aid group in both Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

Following last year's military crackdown in Andijon, Uzbek authorities have unleashed a campaign to oust foreign-funded aid organizations and media.


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