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Kazakhstan: Christian Fined, Deported

Two Christian brothers, Viktor and Didrikh Leven, have been convicted of participating in religious worship without state registration in Akmola Region, Kazakhstan, according to Forum18 News.

On Oct. 14, Viktor, who was born in Kazakhstan but holds German citizenship, was found guilty of “carrying out missionary activity without local registration” under Article 375-3 of Kazakhstan’s Administrative Code. The charge is punishable by a fine and/or deportation for individuals who are not citizens. Viktor was fined a total of 6,480 Tenge (US $43) and ordered deported. He successfully appealed his sentence, and his fine and deportation have been annulled.  Believers think his appeal was successful because the government realized he was not a missionary.

Meanwhile, on Oct.28, Didrikh was convicted of violating Article 374-1 of the Administrative Code, which forbids “leadership or participation in the activity of an unregistered social or religious organization.” He was fined 129,600 Tenge (US $872), which is 100 times the minimum monthly wage. Reportedly, Didrikh plans to appeal to the same Akmola Regional Court that overturned Viktor’s punishment.

On Nov. 5, Feruza Utegenova, a member of New Life Church in Aktau on the Caspian Sea, was deported to Uzbekistan. She had been convicted and fined in June for “carrying out missionary activity without local registration” (Article 375-3) after she gave a Christian children’s magazine to a 12-year-old girl in her neighborhood.

The Voice of the Martyrs stands with these and other believers facing persecution in Kazakhstan. Pray that the charges against Didrikh will be dropped. Pray that God will grant Feruza strength and guidance as she seeks to serve Christ. Pray that authorities will stop harassing Christians in Kazakhstan.

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