Church "Illegally" Barred From Visiting Prison

According to Keston News Service, officials of Kazakhstan's prison system have refused members of a Pentecostal church in the south of the country access to local prison camps on the grounds that one of their preachers is a former prisoner, despite requests for such visits from prisoners themselves. Officials of the South Kazakhstan region have told Keston News Service they believe the ban is unlawful, but they are unable to overrule the decision.

"People who remember me in prison want me to tell them how I managed to save myself," former drug addict Aleksandr Karimov told Keston. A senior religious affairs official told Keston he was "astonished" to hear of Karimov's case. "In Kazakhstan prisoners are free to perform religious rituals. Preachers may visit places of detention and associate with believers."

He thought this case was a "simple misunderstanding" and would soon be resolved, but a legal specialist at the prison service told Keston that permission in these cases depends on the service's investigation into a church community and its aims.