Churches in Kazakhstan are under pressure

By May 21, 2007

Kazakhstan (MNN) — Members of a network of Baptist churches in Kazakhstan refuse to register with the authorities because they believe it will lead to state interference in their activities. And now the fines for failing to register are increasing.

"Of course it's war–economic war," said Dmitri Jantsen of a Baptist congregation in the town of Temirtau near the capital, Astana. "They're handing down fines and confiscating cars, washing machines, and even pigs when we refuse to pay. They want to subject our churches to state control."

Jantsen claims the number and level of fines are increasing. Jantsen listed many recent cases across Kazahkstan against Baptist leaders who have been fined under Article 375 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. It's an article that punishes religious activity by unregistered communities.

The increased pressure on Council of Churches Baptists comes as officials are continuing their campaign to confiscate the entire property of another religious commune near the country's commercial capital, Almaty.

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