Despite Kazakhstan’s constitutional guarantee to freely exercise one’s faith, a Baptist man, Yuri Bekker, was arrested in 2015 for handing out religious literature to people in a market and fined. A part of that fine included payment for an “expert analysis” of “confiscated Christian literature” which Bekker never asked for. When Bekker did not pay the fine, he was convicted on October 13, 2017 for distributing religious literature and for not paying the fines. He was also banned from moving or visiting public places. In addition, the court “froze his rights to his house” which means the government will confiscate his home if he does not pay fines. Kazakhstan has been tightening its grip on Christianity and making it more difficult for Christians to safely practice their faith.
11/07/2017 Kazakhstan (World Watch Monitor) – A court in northern Kazakhstan has given a Baptist man a one-year suspended prison sentence for refusing to pay fines for the state to give its “expert analysis” of Christian books he had with him at the time of his arrest.
Yuri Bekker had also failed to pay outstanding fines for distributing religious literature, reports Forum 18.
He was convicted on 31 October at a district court in the northern region of Akmola, which also encompasses the country’s capital, Astana.
Yuri Rudenko of the Council of Baptist Churches said Bekker’s case was the first time a Baptist had been convicted under Criminal Code Article 430.
Bekker has been ordered to pay the outstanding fines and “expert” fee. He has also been banned from moving house or visiting public places such as restaurants, while he has to notify the authorities about his place of work. If he fails to pay by the end of 2017, he will spend the remaining part of his sentence in prison. The court also froze his rights to his house, which will be confiscated if he does not pay.