Two year jail sentence for Elizaveta
Drenicheva (Unification Church)
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”!”
THE “BIG CRIME”:
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.