KAZAKHSTAN: Two criminal cases continue as new Criminal Code signed
Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev (BK) is still being investigated on criminal charges of harming the health of a parishioner. This time it’s a different person, named S. Kaliev, in what is being called an “extra investigation.” The office in charge of the case refused to confirm if the case was still under investigation, or when the investigation would be concluded. This entire situation is an embarrassment and shame for the country of Kazakhstan. One can only pray that Pastor BK’s harrowing experience, of the extreme violation of his religious freedom, will come to a swift and just end.
By Felix Corley
7/4/2014 Kazakhstan (Forum 18)-Criminal case against Pastor Kashkumbayev. The 67-year-old Kashkumbayev, retired pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in the capital Astana, is being investigated by the city’s Prosecutor’s Office of harming the health of another former parishioner, S. Kaliev. Kashkumbayev vigorously denies harming anyone’s health during his ministry. He is being investigated under four Criminal Code Articles, according to case materials:
– Article 103, Part 2, Point a, which punishes “Intentional inflicting of serious harm to health” in relation to “two or more persons”. Punishment is between four and eight years’ imprisonment.
– Article 164, Part 2, which punishes “Deliberate actions aimed at the incitement of social, national, clan, racial, or religious hatred or antagonism, or at offence to the national honour and dignity, or religious feelings of citizens, as well as propaganda of exclusiveness, superiority, or inferiority of citizens based on their attitude towards religion, or their genetic or racial belonging, if these acts are committed publicly or with the use of the mass information media” when conducted “by a group of people or more than once, or when accompanied by violence or the threat of its use, or by a person using their official position or by a leader”. Punishments range from a fine to imprisonment of up to seven years.
– Article 233-1, Part 2, which punishes “propaganda of terrorism or extremism or public calls to conduct acts of terrorism or extremism” when conducted using one’s official position. Punishment is imprisonment of between five and ten years.
– and Article 337, Part 1, which punishes “creation or leadership of religious or social organisations whose activity involves violence against citizens or the causing of other harm to their health, or the incitement of citizens to refuse to carry out their civil obligations or to carry out other illegal activities, as well as the creation or leadership of parties on a religious basis or political parties and professional unions financed from sources banned by the laws of Kazakhstan”. Punishments range from a fine to imprisonment of up to six years.
The head of the Department overseeing the case against Pastor Kashkumbayev at Astana Prosecutor’s Office, Ruslan Azambayev, refused absolutely to confirm that the criminal case is continuing or when it is likely to be concluded. “This is official information,” he told Forum 18 on 9 July, refusing to provide any details. He referred further enquiries to Investigator Kanatzhan Kamalbek in his Department. However, his phone went unanswered the same day.
This case was originally part of an earlier criminal case against Pastor Kashkumbayev, but was separated from it in January for separate “extra investigation” (see F18News 22 January 2014http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1918).
Pastor Kashkumbayev’s lawyer, Nurlan Beysekeyev, tried to challenge the 17 February decision by Judge Gulzhakhan Ubasheva of Astana’s Almaty District Court No. 2 to send the case for further investigation. However, in a decision seen by Forum 18, on 30 April Judge Suleimen Ezhebekov of Astana City Court rejected the suit.
The original criminal case against Pastor Kashkumbayev was formally launched in February 2012, four months after his retirement. He was arrested in May 2013 and held in custody (including a month in enforced psychiatric detention) until the verdict in the trial was handed down on 17 February 2014.
Pastor Kashkumbayev was convicted under Article 103 of harming the health of another church member, Lyazzat Almenova, although she has repeatedly insisted to Forum 18 and to others that her health has not been harmed. He was given a four-year suspended prison term, was ordered to live under restrictions, and was ordered to pay the representative of his alleged “victim” large “moral damages” of 2 Million Tenge (65,800 Norwegian Kroner, 7,900 Euros or 10,800 US Dollars) (see F18News 17 February 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1929).