BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — In a country where some churches forego state registration to maintain a low profile, two Protestants in a registered church have been fined for “illegal missionary activity.”
Following a raid earlier this year by Kyrgyzstan officials, two foreign Protestants — both associated with a registered church — were fined for “illegal missionary activity,” Forum 18 News Service stated in an August report.
Some officials involved in the raid were from the Department for the Struggle against Extremism and Illegal Migration.
“State registration does not remove many obstacles to exercising freedom of religion and belief,” said Forum 18, quoting a source. In 2019, this source had told Forum 18, “[R]egistration only gives you permission to exist. Registration does not give you the freedoms one should expect.”
In another August article, Forum 18 said some smaller churches are not seeking state registration in an effort to avoid government interference in congregants’ lives.
Quoting anonymous Protestant sources, Forum 18 said registration requires providing personal information about church members, which could lead to “state surveillance of their private lives and possible later targeting by regime agencies.”
According to regime laws, unregistered religious entities are deemed illegal and are not allowed to operate.