Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two Churches Raided in Kazakhstan

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev
 signed the new laws in October 2011

KAZAKHSTAN (ANS) -- Two unrelated Protestant churches in different parts of Kazakhstan were raided in early October, reportedly over a criminal case launched 15 months ago.

Kazakhstan is a country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

According to a story by Mushfig Bayram of Forum 18 News Service, the case follows a complaint by the mother of a member of Astana's Grace Church that it harmed her health. These allegations were denied by church members to Forum 18.

Forum 18 reported masked police searched the church, and seized computers, valuables and religious books they insisted were "extremist," although they were unable to explain what was extremist or who had said they were. Police requested church members to give blood samples, so they could see if the church uses "hallucinogenic" substances for communion.

Nine days later the unrelated New Life Church in Oral (Uralsk) was raided in the same case.

Asked by Forum 18 why masked police broke into Grace Church in a manner church members found threatening, Senior Investigator Vyacheslav Glazkov adamantly denied the charge. He said, "We did not threaten anyone; we just made a search."

Members of both churches fear the authorities will use the case to prevent them gaining the mandatory re-registration for religious communities to be allowed to continue operating after Oct. 25.

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