Kazakhstan authorities raided a church service at the end of October detaining 20 Christians. The congregation in Ekibastuz, north-eastern Kazakhstan, were fined for “participation in an unregistered, halted or banned religious community or social organization.”
The pastor was fined almost $700 and the others, almost $350. Kazakhstan guarantees religious rights but at the same time, the country’s strict religious laws allows authorities to restrict religious freedoms. And it is expected that higher fines will come into force next year under amendments to religious laws which could be ratified in Parliament soon.
“We wrote complaints to the Prosecutors Office that the authorities must not force us to register, because Kazakhstan’s Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and allows people to gather together for peaceful meetings,” said the church leader, Pastor Asetov.
He said that he and his congregation did not agree with the statements the police gave them to sign.