07ASTANA741, KAZAKHSTAN: “OPERATION RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM” NETS BAPTISTS,

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07ASTANA741.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA741 2007-03-26 00:49 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO4880
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0741/01 0850049
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260049Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8862
INFO RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0102
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1704

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000741 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA/CEN (M. O'MARA), DRL/IRF (B. CATES) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KDEM KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: "OPERATION RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM" NETS BAPTISTS, 
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS 
 
REF: Astana 654 
 
ASTANA 00000741  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
1. (U) Summary: From February 12-21, law enforcement services in the 
Northern Kazakhstan Oblast conducted a preventative sweep entitled 
"Operation Religious Extremism," purportedly as part of a CIS-wide 
program to combat terrorism and violent extremism. Authorities 
detained the leaders of eight Christian groups for operating without 
the mandatory legal registration. No terrorists or violent 
extremists were detected during the operation.  End summary. 
 
------------- 
THE OPERATION 
------------- 
 
2.  (U) From February 12-21, law enforcement authorities in the 
Northern Kazakhstan oblast swept the region looking for religious 
groups and individuals operating in violation of the law.  According 
to press reports, the police conducted a press briefing to announce 
that "Operation Religious Extremism" had resulted in the arrest of 
several leaders of Christian groups, primarily Baptists, for 
violating Kazakhstani law requiring the registration of religious 
groups. 
 
3.  (SBU) Post contacted a number of government authorities, 
including the Ministry of Interior (MVD) and the Religious Issues 
Committee (RIC) of the Ministry of Justice, in order to verify the 
press reports.  An MVD representative claimed little knowledge of 
the operation, though she acknowledged it existed and stated that it 
was being coordinated through Moscow as part of a CIS-wide program 
to combat religious extremism. 
 
4. (SBU) Amanbek Mukhashov, deputy chairman of the RIC, was 
initially unaware of the operation, though he followed up Post's 
inquiry with an internal report detailing the results of the 
operation. According to the document, "Operation Religious 
Extremism" is a coordinated and comprehensive operation aimed at the 
prevention and detection of terrorist attacks and other extremist 
actions.  The program is part of the "2005-2007 Program of 
Cooperation of CIS Member-States in Combat against Terrorism and 
Violent Extremism." The law enforcement action in the Northern 
Kazakhstan oblast was Kazakhstan's first action under the program 
(Note: As detailed in the annual Human Rights Report and 
International Religious Freedom Report, Kazakhstani authorities 
regularly detain and fine the leaders of unregistered Baptist 
groups, many of whom refuse to register as a matter of principle. 
However, Post is unaware of a previous, broadly-coordinated law 
enforcement campaign against such groups.  End note.) 
 
----------- 
THE RESULTS 
----------- 
 
5.  (SBU) According to press reports and the document provided by 
the RIC, authorities took action against eight unregistered 
religious groups during the sweep.  The press reports and confirming 
document reveal no violent tendencies or terrorist links among the 
groups. 
 
6. (U) On February 14, police detained 43-year-old Evangelical 
Christian Baptist pastor Alexander Kerker in the northern Kazakhstan 
town of Taiynsha.  His group was not registered, and he did not have 
legal documents permitting him to preach. The RIC document reports 
that law enforcement officers have repeatedly spoken to the pastor 
and explained his registration obligations under the law, though he 
consistently refused to comply.  The authorities submitted evidence 
of the violation to the Taiynsha city administrative court. The 
court imposed a fine in the amount of 109,200 tenge ($873) under 
article 374-1 of the Administrative Code entitled "Running or 
participating in an unregistered organization." 
 
7. (U) The second unregistered group was the Grace Church in Iakor 
village, Kyzyl-zhar district in northern Kazakhstan. Police detained 
its leader, 42-year-old Yevgeniy Semerenko, on February 17. He did 
not have any documents to support his group, such as a charter or 
registration certificate, though he had practiced his faith for six 
years. The police press service stated that he held religious 
devotions and services at his mother's house. Materials on this 
group were forwarded to the Kyzyl-zhar district administrative 
court. 
 
8. (U) On February 17, in the Kishkene-kol village, Ualikhanov 
district in northern Kazakhstan, Evangelical Christian Baptist 
pastor R. Pugachov was detained by police during a church service. 
The basis for the detention was once again that the group was not 
registered and the pastor did not have permission to preach. The 
same day materials on his case were filed with the Ualikhanov 
district administrative court. He was fined 109,200 tenge ($873) 
 
ASTANA 00000741  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
under article 374-1 of the Administrative Code entitled "Running or 
participating in an unregistered organization." 
 
9. (U) On February 19, the police detained the leader of a small 
group
of Evangelical Christian Baptists, Lubov Furdakova, in the 
Kyzyl-zhar district. She practiced her religion in her house. 
Furdakova's group was not registered, although she claims she filed 
registration documents with the local office of the Ministry of 
Justice. Police forwarded materials on her case to the Kyzyl-zhar 
administrative court. 
 
10. (U) Also on February 19, the police targeted the 
"Transformation" Church of Evangelical Christian Baptists in 
Nalobino village in the same Kyzyl-zhar district in northern 
Kazakhstan, detaining 64-year-old pastor Vasiliy Hotko. Hotko is a 
resident of Petropavlovsk, though he comes to Nalobino village 
regularly to hold services for the Pentecostal Baptists 
congregation. The group has a prayer house in Nalobino village, but 
police claim that they do not have a charter and are not formally 
allowed to operate in Kyzyl-zhar district. Police forwarded 
materials on this group to the Kyzyl-zhar district administrative 
court. 
 
11. (U) On February 20, the leader of New Life Church, Ludmila 
Poltavtseva, was detained in Mamlutsky district in northern 
Kazakhstan. Though the group has a church building in  Mamlutka, it 
does not have registration documents, and Poltavtseva does not have 
legal permission to preach. Materials were forwarded to the local 
court. 
 
12. (U) On February 20, police detained the leader of Grace Church, 
Oleg Voropayev, in the Mamlutsky district. The group does not have a 
charter, and is not registered. Materials were forwarded to the 
local court. 
 
13. (U) Finally, on February 21, the leader of the Church of Great 
Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, Ali Ismagilov, was detained in 
Voskresenka village in the Mamlutsky district for conducting 
religious activities without registration. Materials were forwarded 
to the local court. (Note: This church is affiliated with the 
Orthodox faith. End note.) 
 
------------- 
MORE TO COME? 
------------- 
 
14. (U) Post was unable to learn further details of the operation or 
whether the government will continue such sweeps in other parts of 
the country.  Nevertheless, Operation Religious Extremism is 
consistent with recent indications that some in the government seek 
to tighten control over unregistered and/or minority religious 
groups.  On September 15, 2006, deputy chief commander of the KNB 
Counter-terrorism Center Askar Amerkhanov stated in a press 
interview that the KNB was drafting legislative proposals to address 
so-called destructive sects and organizations. Amerkhanov named the 
Grace Church, Scientologists, and Jehovah's Witnesses as 
organizations that should be banned in Kazakhstan. More recently, 
the RIC revealed that it is preparing draft amendments to 
Kazakhstan's religion law that would tighten government control over 
the registration process and significantly restrict the activities 
of groups with less than 50 members (reftel). 
 
 
15. (U) In mid-December 2006, the "Megapolis" weekly newspaper 
published interviews with a representative of the Spiritual 
Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan and a priest of the Russian 
Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan. Both clergymen supported banning 
Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Ahmadi Muslims, Hare Krishnas, 
Tabligi Jamaat, White Brothers, and Satan's Church from Kazakhstan. 
They favored tightening Kazakhstan's policy against non-traditional 
religions and welcomed draft amendments to prevent destructive sects 
and strengthen the privileged status of the two major faiths - Islam 
and Orthodox Christianity. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
16. (SBU) It is puzzling that the police chose to trumpet the 
results of an anti-extremism operation that netted only unregistered 
religious groups with no evident ties to extremism.  It is highly 
unlikely that Northern Kazakhstan oblast is actually devoid of 
extremist groups; rather, it appears that this type of law 
enforcement operation is simply not an effective way to detect 
groups that actually pose a risk to Kazakhstan's security.  This 
operation, the pending draft amendments to the religion law, and the 
comments of the KNB counter-terrorism official point to a growing 
 
ASTANA 00000741  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
tendency to define as extreme any group that runs afoul of 
registration laws or falls outside of mainstream Kazakhstani culture 
and society.  Post will continue to monitor the actions of law 
enforcement officials and encourage the Kazakhstani government to 
uphold its oft-stated commitment to religious freedom.  End 
comment. 
 
ORDWAY

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: