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New laws with tougher restrictions on religious freedom are currently awaiting approval in Kazakhstan. The laws, which are currently being reviewed with the parliament's Senate, would usher in harsh new punishments that are raising concerns among human rights defenders and religious communities.

Restrictions include up to 60 days of imprisonment for leading religious meetings without state permission, or up to 45 days in jail for attending such an event. At present, these offenses are punishable with only fines. It would also become illegal to build places of worship in prisons.

In a statement written by 119 local human rights groups and other concerned individuals, it was noted: "In complete contradiction with the Constitution and the norms of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Kazakhstan's laws unequivocally make the profession by an individual of a religion dependent on having several dozen, hundreds or even thousands of fellow believers. The draft Criminal Code harshens punishment for violating this undemocratic provision."

The reported deadline for adopting the new laws is June 15th, with the laws scheduled to come into force as of January 1st, 2015.

Pray that the authorities in Kazakhstan will seek to uphold and respect religious freedom for all, and that these proposed harsh restrictions will be overturned. Ask God to grant wisdom to the church leaders at this time as they navigate these possible changes. May the country's Christians be equipped with courage and boldness to continue following their Lord, regardless of the humanly devised decrees. Let us also pray that He will use these apparent hindrances to further His greater purposes for the church as a whole in Kazakhstan.

To learn more about the restrictions believers face in this country, check out our Kazakhstan Country Report.

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Country Information

Population
19,245,793 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Kazakh (Qazaq) (68), Russian (19.3), Uzbek (3.2), Ukrainian (1.5), Uighur (1.5), Tatar (1.1), German (1), Other (4.4)

Religion (%)
Muslim (70.2), Christian (26.2), Buddhist (0.1), Other (0.2), Atheist (2.8), Unspecified (0.5)

Leader
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (2019)

Government type
Presidential republic

Legal system the theory and practice of the Russian Federation
Civil law system influenced by Roman-Germanic law and b

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Kazakhstan

Pray that authorities will cease their harassment of unregistered church communities. Until then, pray believers will effectively minister the gospel despite opposition.

Pray for endurance for those believers facing these challenges.

Pray for the adage “To be a Kazakh is to be a Muslim” to be broken; pray for freedom from historic spiritual bondages and prejudices.

end

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Kazakhstan News

  • Parliament Debates New Religious Restrictions
    Kazakhstan Senate - Photo: Wikipedia / SenateKZ
    Kazakhstan Senate
    Photo: Wikipedia / SenateKZ (cc)

    On October 6th, amendments to Kazakhstan's religious laws were approved by the Parliament and then passed on to the Senate. The legislation added new restrictions to religious events conducted outside a building of worship owned by a registered re

    ...
  • Religious Worshippers Monitored and Fined
    Oral, Kazakhstan - Photo: Wikipedia / Bereshev
    Oral, Kazakhstan
    Photo: Wikipedia / Bereshev (cc)

    Since the beginning of 2021, at least 20 cases have gone to court in Kazakhstan for holding religious meetings without state permission. The fines brought against them varied from three weeks' to four months' average wages. Amendments are also pres

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  • Appeal Fails to Halt Seizures
    New Life Curch - Photo: Ivan Kryukov
    New Life Church property in Almaty
    Photo: Ivan Kryukov (cc)

    On September 17th, a court in the city of Almaty upheld an earlier decision to seize two buildings owned by the New Life Protestant Church. The facilities were being used for worship, as well as a means of support for those suffering from

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  • Church Buildings Confiscated
    Grace Church member praying - Photo: Grace Church via Forum 18 www.forum18.org
    Church member prays outside Grace Church.
    Photo: Grace Church via Forum 18

    City officials in Kazakhstan's capital of Nur-Sultan have ordered the confiscation of the Grace Presbyterian Church building, as well as the place of worship being constructed on the same site for the Agape Pentecostal Church

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