Fines, raids increase on churches in Kazakhstan

Fines, raids increase on churches in Kazakhstan

TEMIRTAU, Kazakhstan — Police recently raided two Baptist meetings for worship on Easter in the Kazakhstan central city of Temirtau and the southern city of Taraz. Officers issued four fines totaling about nine months’ average wages. Fines for meeting for worship are increasing, according to Baptists in the area.

Also in the southern city of Almaty, a court banned a Protestant church from meeting for three months (from April to July). The court also fined the church for holding a meeting for worship in a place other than its registered address. An Indian citizen associated with the church is appealing against a fine and deportation order.

An official of Almaty’s Religious Affairs Department, Karshyga Malik, said the administrative cases against the church and the Indian citizen were among 33 it had launched since the beginning of 2017. The cases were to punish those who meet without state permission, meet in places without state permission, distribute religious literature without state permission or talk to others of their faith without state permission.

Police raids on congregations of the Council of Baptist Churches are frequent. Yet they choose to meet for worship without seeking state registration.

Council of Baptist Churches’ Dmitry Yantsen told Radio Free Europe’s Kazakh Service of a “new wave” of raids against their communities across Kazakhstan. Many of the Council of Baptists Churches have been served fines by police with no court hearing. (F18, TAB)