(Forum 18) — A local Protestant pastor and five foreign visitors were fined for holding baptisms in hot springs near Kazakhstan’s commercial capital Almaty. One of the foreigners–a United States-based Canadian citizen—was ordered deported.
A court in Akmola Region overturned a summary police fine on a Baptist pastor for leading a church that chooses to meet for worship without seeking the compulsory state registration. The judge ruled that as he had been fined for this in 2013 he could not be fined twice for the same “offense.”
Kazakhstan imposes strict controls on who is allowed to exercise freedom of religion or belief and where. Only registered religious communities are allowed to meet for worship and they can do so only in their own registered premises or in other venues with state approval. Those who exercise freedom of religion or belief outside these strict limits risk punishment through the courts for what the state regards as “missionary activity.”