"14 July 2006
KAZAKHSTAN: CRACKDOWN ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CONTINUES
A Pentecostal theological college is facing attempts by the authorities to close it, along with a media campaign against the college, and the dramatic increase in fines of unregistered Baptists has continued, Forum 18 News Service has found. These are the latest developments in Kazakhstan's crackdown on religious freedom. The Shymkent Prosecutor's Office is prosecuting the local Elim Seminary for not having an Education Ministry licence - even though the college immediately applied for a licence when this requirement was introduced in May. The Prosecutor, Erzhan Ezaliev, claimed to Forum 18 that 'Personally I am neutral towards Protestants. But the law is the same for everybody.' In 2005, the same Prosecutor's Office - without any legal grounds for its action - also tried to close the Seminary. Also, two Baptists, one a Pastor, have been fined for unregistered activity and breaking an order banning a church. The fines imposed are much greater than the previous norm."