Kazakh Baptists refuse to pay fines

A group of Baptists that claims the government has no right to require them to register with the government had another run-in with the law in Central Asia.

By Bob Allen

kazakhstan mapTwo Baptists in Kazakhstan recently served 48 hours in jail after refusing to pay fines handed down in 2013 for worshipping and sharing their faith without the government’s permission.

Shoe-repairer Vyacheslav Cherkasov and plumber Zhasulan Alzhanov were sentenced Jan. 9 in Kazakhstan's northern Akmola Region, according to the Oslo-based news service Forum 18. They were released Jan. 11.

The two were among more than 60 Baptists fined in Kazakhstan in 2013 who refuse to pay fines in an act of civil disobedience. They are part of the Council of Churches Baptists, which argues that compulsory state registration of religious exercise violates religious freedom protections in Kazakhstan’s constitution and international human-rights obligations.