Churches raided, leaders fined and Christian literature seized in Kazakhstan

February 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Kazakhstan, newsletter-world, Persecution

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Kazakhstan, February 20, 2012: Churches are being raided, leaders fined and Christian literature confiscated as the Kazakh authorities enforce new laws intended further to restrict religious freedom in the country.

Aleksei Asetov, a father of ten, was fined 485,400 Tenge (US$3,300) – an estimated average local wage for 18 months – for leading a small unregistered church that meets in his home in Ekibastuz in Pavlodar Region. The property, including the parts where the family lives, was raided on 30 November by two officers from the Department for the Fight against Extremism, Separatism and Terrorism. They seized Christian literature in their search of the building.

On 19 January, a case was brought against him under the new legislation, and he was found guilty on 8 February of carrying out banned religious activity.

Aleksei is the fourth Christian known to have been fined since the harsh new Religion Law and changes to another associated law came into force in October 2011.

The other three are all from the Karaganda Region. Ivan Yantsen (62) was fined 75,600 Tenge (US$510) following a raid on 17 November, as part of “Operation Legal Order”, on a private home where his church meets. He was found guilty of “participation in the activity of a banned religious organisation”.

Aleksey Buka was fined on 1 December 2011 for participating in unregistered meetings for worship.

On 11 January, Yevgeni Savin was fined 161,800 Tenge (US$1,091) for leading unregistered religious meetings, following a raid on his home, where the church meets.

The council of churches to which all four belong has a policy of not paying fines issued to them for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. Those who have previously refused to pay have been imprisoned for a short period or had property confiscated or the value of the fines taken directly from their wages.

Literature confiscated

A church in Petropavl in North Kazakhstan has twice been raided by the Police Department for the Fight against Extremism, Separatism and Terrorism, and an official from the Agency of Religious Affairs (ARA).

The first raid took place on 29 January during its Sunday service. Officers confiscated several New Testaments as well as Christian books and DVDs that were on a table in the foyer of the hall that the church rents, saying that the items were subject to “expert analysis”.

Officials returned to the church during its service two weeks later.

The head of North Kazakhstan’s Regional Department of the ARA said the church had “violated the Religion Law by distributing religious literature”.

– barnabas team

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