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Pastor arrested for worshipping without permission comment (0)

June 12, 2014

Semei, Kazakhstan — The leader of a Baptist congregation in Semei in East Kazakhstan Region began a 10-day prison term May 27 for meeting for worship without state permission. 

Viktor Kandyba had refused to pay a fine handed down in 2013 for leading the church. Prosecutor’s office official Bolzhan Botbayev, who brought both cases to court, struggled to explain why Kandyba has the right to gather friends to watch football on TV but not to meet for worship. “The law says they must have registration before they are allowed to meet,” Botbayev said. 

Kandyba is the eighth known Baptist to be given a short-term prison sentence in 2014 for refusing to pay fines for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. “I can’t agree that these imprisonments are a violation of human rights,” said Rustam Kypshakbayev of the government’s Ombudsperson’s Office for Human Rights. Those who lead unregistered religious communities will face up to 60 days’ imprisonment if the new Criminal Code now in the Senate is adopted in current form. 

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