Increasing numbers of Christians in Kazakhstan are being given short-term prison sentences for refusing to pay fines linked to their religious activity.
Roman Dimmel spent three days in prison in Kazakhstan’s Karaganda Region in early May for refusing to pay a fine handed down in 2015 for offering Christian literature and sharing his faith. The village where he was offering religious literature has no place where it can legally be distributed. He has already served an earlier three-day prison term and been banned from leaving Kazakhstan because of the unpaid fine.
In a separate case, two fellow Baptists have been fined in Kostanai Region for offering Christian literature on the streets. A criminal case on charges of inciting religious hatred was dropped. The Christian books, leaflets and discs seized from them have been ordered destroyed.
Marat Azilkhanov, the deputy minister in the Culture and Sport Ministry who oversees its Religious Affairs Committee, refused to discuss why individuals are punished for offering religious literature to or sharing their faith with others, and why courts order religious literature destroyed.
‘Send us an official request with your questions,’ Azilkhanov insisted. ‘I am not authorised to answer by phone.’ He then put the phone down.
Kazakhstan imposes tight censorship on all religious literature. The Religious Affairs Committee needs to approve in advance the publication, import and distribution of all religious literature and other materials.
Source: Forum 18
- that God will strengthen the faith of Christians in Kazakhstan. Pray for ever-greater unity in the body of Christ in that nation.
- that God will sustain and provide for those who come into conflict with the law for their religious activity