Kazakhstan: Two year jail sentence for Elizaveta Drenicheva (Unification Church)


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Klick to youtube video on the trial in Russian with English subtitles:

Website: Petition to free Elizaveta Drenicheva  

Letter from Elizaveta Drenicheva’s Defense Laywer   19 October, 2008

Radio Free Europe Report:
   Right Defenders Demand Release Of Missionary In Kazakhstan    16 January, 2009

  Open Letter:
  Dr. Akhbar Hemat Faryabi - Dr. International Law, the Netherlands
Appeal to the President of Kazachstan    17 January, 2009

Will Kazakhstan Be The New Face of the OSCE?

First letter from Elizaveta Drenicheva: Written to us in jail

Two more letters from Elizaveta Drenicheva: Written to us in jail    9 Jan. 2009

American Thinker Article - A Stalinist Arrest In Kazakhstan  24 January, 2009

Press Release Unification Church (FFWPU)   26 Jan. 2009

   United Press International Asia (UPI-Asia)
Kazakhstan launches attack on religion  28 January, 2009

  Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l News Letter:
KAZAKHSTAN: This is a highly dangerous precedent  9 Feb. 2009 

The Washington Times: Kazakhstan backs off on religion limits  13 Feb. 2009 

Lisa's Letter: I am ready, if necessary, to go till the end    13 Feb. 2009 

The Washington Times-COMMENTARY: Kazakhstan's government
   What values are shared?   16 Feb. 2009    

Lisa's Letter from Prison #5:  
   I feel like we all are one family and the whole world holds me 
February 25th, 2009

Lisa's Letter from Prison #6:
   I feel strongly you are praying for and supporting me 
February 27th, 2009

Lisa Drenicheva awaiting to be released from jail     March 10, 2009        

Great news! - Lisa Drenicheva has been freed    March 10, 2009        

The Washington Times: Court to free missionary in religion case
   (Elizaveta "Liza" Drenicheva)   
March 11, 2009        

Victory in Kazakhstan for Liza Drenicheva    March 11, 2009       

Liza Drenicheva Says “Thank You!” to Her World Family     March 16, 2009     

Tens of thousands supporters worldwide for: Free Elizaveta Drenicheva 
March 18, 2009     

Liza Drenicheva Departs Kazakhstan as Fight for Religious Freedom Continues
March 21, 2009     

Liza Drenicheva: Kazkahstan court case - appeal rejected
June 9, 2009     

Kazakhstan: Supporters Say Convicted Kazakh Rights
   Activist Is Political Prisoner
     4 September, 2009   

Two year jail sentence for Elizaveta Drenicheva (Unification Church)

Almaty/Vienna: Friday, 9. Jan 2009 Mrs. Drenicheva (28) had to go to jail in Almaty, the second capitol of Kazakhstan. The pronounced punishment for the young missionary is no less than two years behind bars in a District prison. According to the prosecutor, E. Drenicheva was sentenced for “having committed heavy crimes against the peace and security of humanity”.
Mrs. Drenicheva, who is a Russian citizen and married, has joined the Unification Church in 1995 and started her missionary work in Kazakhstan only 3 years ago.

Already in April last year the Committee for National Security (KNB - former KGB) of Almaty undertook operations, such as bugging phones and offices. Also they are said to have observed Church members and associates in their activities related to the Unification Church, which has been a registered NGO in the country since 1997.

According to Mrs. Drenicheva: “On July 2nd, 2008 at 6 am KGB officers broke into the building of the Peace Embassy as well as into our flats to make a random search. They took away all our literature and computers. I was arrested. Other members where asked not to leave the country. After two days I was released from the pre-trail prison and had to sign a written pledge not to leave the country.

On October 24 legal proceedings got under way in the Almalinskiy District Court of the City of Almaty. I was accused according to the article 164 part 2 of the Criminal Code of Republic of Kazakhstan for “having violated the peace and security of humanity”!”

Mrs. Drenicheva gathered 4 people for a seminar and over a course of four days she taught to her audience the Unification Principles, the Theology of the Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Mrs. Drenicheva’s crime had been to gather a small audience for a seminar to study the theological teachings of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. An undercover KNB agent who, under the pseudonym “Medvedev”, had infiltrated the audience claimed the content to be propaganda that showed signs of harmful effects on the integrity of the state.

However the Chief of Kazakhstan’s International Bureau for Human Rights, Mr. Eveniy Zhovtis maintained the theological teachings to be biblical interpretations that were not markedly different from those of other religions and questioned whether the trial meant that the government would now similarly start putting priests, monks and nuns into jail.

He summed up the situation by saying, “The fact that such a trial even got under way is truly a disgrace. It’s a shame on a country that has suffered so much due to religious persecution. You could hardly imagine a better way to discredit our country.”

The expert on human rights has also been referring to Kazakhstan’s expected OSCE Presidency in 2010. This has not been confirmed yet, since a proposed new law on religion has caused an outrage of critique from the international human rights community as well as from OSCE itself. The draft of the law is said to fail the OSCE standards of human rights by far. That may well be the main reason, why the passing of the law is still on hold.

In October at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (Warsaw) Kazakhstan was heavily rebuked by various human rights defenders and NGOs for restrictive measures on religious communities and the proposed law (see attachment). One of the numerous examples for that practice was the tearing down of the only Krishna Temple in the country.

Kazakhstan’s hopes for chairing the OSCE in 2010 may well be torpedoed by her own violations of OSCE standards. Putting a young missionary women behind bars - for doing nothing else but practicing her religious duties in proclaiming her faith - is another clear violation of the very principles the OSCE is trying so hard to implement in the Region.

This report has been written by Peter Zoehrer

Additional Information:

Kazakhstan: International Religious Freedom Report 2008