Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Earthly Loyalties

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Illustration by Jamil Dar

by Marina Kozlova
25 September 2007

TOL SPECIAL REPORT: Russian Orthodox believers face problems in Uzbekistan, but the church remains one of the most reliable supporters of President Islam Karimov’s regime.

[This is the second in a series of articles examining the state of religious liberty in the countries of Central Asia. Also see:

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan In the Soviet Union, Orthodox believers had to be furtive. Some donned wigs and dark glasses to attend Easter services. Others, fearing recognition, made the painful choice not to go to church at all, even if it meant missing the funeral of a loved one.

These days, Orthodox Christians who live in former Soviet states are no longer fired from their jobs for adhering to an “alien” ideology, but that does not mean they worship freely throughout the region. In Uzbekistan, those who miss work in order to observe Orthodox Christmas, for instance, risk losing their jobs. The day is a holiday in neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

In 2005, Uzbek authorities refused, without explanation, to allow entry into the country of the relics of Orthodox saints Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fyodorovna and a nun, Varvara Yakovleva, who had worked among the poor and were killed by Bolsheviks in 1918. The relics were on a tour of former Soviet states. READ THE REST HERE:

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