Date: January 31, 2013
Kazakhstan (MNN) ― It's been a year since Kazakhstan expanded its Religion Law, and more people are being punished for their faith.
According to Forum 18 News, several large fines have been handed out since August, and two more are pending for local Baptists. Forum 18 says believers are being punished for "illegal missionary activity," and the fines are equal to seven months' wages, or $1,150 USD.
A few of the seven people punished for "illegal missionary activity" were sharing their faith on the street, while others were leading religious meetings within their communities. Forum 18 says prosecuted individuals include four Jehovah's Witnesses, two Muslims, and a Christian.
The two believers awaiting trial are part of Almaty's Council of Churches Baptist congregation, reports Forum 18. Along with accusing Yuri Bronitsky and Fedor Karabeinikov of violating Kazakhstan's new religion law, officials visited another Baptist church in the region.
"[Police] came during worship and photographed us," congregants complained to Forum 18. "They said they had an order…that now the new law has been adopted, they will close us down."
Elsewhere in Kazakhstan, reports Forum 18, courts fined a believer for handing out Christian books to people on the streets. The man expected a hearing for his case, but instead was taken directly to the court after work.
These are the latest cases in a series of crackdowns since Kazakhstan passed two new religion laws in October 2011. It was thought to be one of the freer countries in Central Asia, but with more and more cases surfacing, Kazakhstan is starting to look very similar to the other restrictive "Stan" countries.
Pray for boldness for believers throughout Central Asia. Pray that the crackdown on Christianity would end.