U.S. Religious Freedom Envoy Traveling To Ukraine, Poland, Uzbekistan

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The United States' religious freedom ambassador is traveling to Ukraine, Poland, and Uzbekistan for meetings on protecting the rights of religious and ethnic groups.

The State Department said that, in Ukraine, Ambassador Sam Brownback is scheduled to meet with government officials and religious leaders.

He was later set to travel to Poland for a major conference hosted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe "for discussions about repressive measures against peaceful members of ethnic and religious groups."

The department said Brownback would also be touring the concentration camp at Auschwitz, where he will participate in a wreath-laying and a candle-lighting ceremony.

In Uzbekistan, Brownback is expected to meet with top government officials "to discuss Uzbekistan's recent positive steps on religious freedom policies and encourage legislative reforms."

Washington has criticized the Central Asian nation for years about its policies toward religious expression.

In its annual report released in January, the United States singled out Uzbekistan, along with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and "egregious" violations of religious freedom.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.