08ASTANA357, KAZAKHSTAN: KNB INTENSIFIES INVESTIGATION OF GRACE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA357 2008-02-21 09:14 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO3476
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHTA #0357/01 0520914
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 210914Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1819
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0404
RUCNCLS/SCA COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000357 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN M. O'MARA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/21/2018 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KIRF KDEM KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: KNB INTENSIFIES INVESTIGATION OF GRACE 
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 
 
REF: 07 ASTANA 2718 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR ORDWAY FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1. (C) Summary: On January 25, Committee for National 
Security (KNB) agents raided yet another Grace Presbyterian 
Church, this time in Almaty.  The raid is the latest step in 
an ongoing KNB investigation of the denomination, which began 
with August 2007 raids on two churches and several 
church-related homes and continued with intensive questioning 
of church officials.  Although the KNB has not formally 
detained or charged any church officials, and the churches 
continue to operate, church leaders are increasingly 
concerned about the broadening scope of the investigation and 
what it means for the future of the church.  The KNB has 
remained publicly silent on the case, though some press 
reports have linked the case to the ongoing investigation and 
prosecution of former presidential son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev. 
End summary. 
 
-------------------------------- 
KNB RAIDS GRACE CHURCH IN ALMATY 
-------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) On January 25, Committee for National Security (KNB) 
agents raided yet another Grace Presbyterian Church, this 
time searching the large, 4500 member Grace Church in Almaty. 
 KNB agents seized documents, financial records, and 
computers and questioned church officials.  The raid is the 
latest step in an ongoing KNB investigation of the church, 
which began with August 24, 2007 raids on the Grace Church 
headquarters in Karaganda, the Grace Church in Ust 
Kamenogorsk, and several church-related private homes in 
Karaganda (reftel).  Other law enforcement bodies, including 
the financial police, have also been involved in the ongoing 
investigation, intensively questioning church officials and 
examining church records for the denomination since the 
initial August 24, 2007 raids.  Although Grace Church 
Archbishop Igor Kim, his wife, and other pastors and 
administrators have been subjected to extensive questioning, 
they have not been formally detained, and the churches 
continue to hold worship services. 
 
3. (SBU) According to Association of Religious Organizations 
of Kazakhstan chairman Aleksandr Klyushev and various media 
reports, this investigation is connected to a treason 
investigation involving church officials and Almaty 
businessman Sergey Tsoy (reftel), but has expanded to include 
virtually every aspect of the church's operation. Klyushev, 
who met with Archbishop Kim on January 31 in Karaganda, told 
us on February 1 that he now believes the investigation is 
about much more than Tsoy,s ties to the church; he alleged 
that it is a case of religious persecution by the 
authorities, as the Grace Church is one of the more active 
and visible nontraditional religious groups in the country. 
 
4. (C) Klyushev maintains that the Grace Church leaders are 
innocent of any espionage, and still does not know the basis 
for possible treason charges. In his view, the authorities 
are nonetheless determined to find wrongdoing by the church. 
As an example, he said that authorities have zeroed in on 
charitable donations by a foreign donor that were deposited 
into the bank account of Archbishop Kim's wife Arina, which 
she then used for charitable purposes. He said that 
authorities are preparing criminal charges against Arina Kim 
for tax evasion. 
 
5. (C) Klyushev provided additional information about the 
August 2007 KNB raids on the church offices in Karaganda, 
which he learned during his January 31 meeting with 
Archbishop Kim.  According to Kim, the church dismissed a 
high-level staffer a few years ago after suspecting that he 
was a KNB informant and had conducted a number of illicit 
activities and actions to undermine the church.  (Note: Kim 
briefly mentioned this case during an April 5, 2007 meeting 
with Poloff.  End note.) This unnamed staffer,s office 
contained a wall safe, though nobody from the church had 
access to it. The church essentially ignored it after his 
departure.  During the August 2007 KNB raid, the KNB forcibly 
opened the safe and confiscated a number of sensitive 
documents, including instructions from the KNB about how to 
monitor religious groups.  Several church administrators 
witnessed the opening of the safe, and were sworn to secrecy 
about the content of the documents.  The KNB then accused the 
church of illegally possessing classified documents. 
Klyushev also thought it a strange coincidence that the fired 
church employee/KNB informant died only 15 days after the 
inspection of the church. According to press reports, the man 
died of cancer and his family blamed the Grace Church for 
 
ASTANA 00000357  002 OF 003 
 
 
hastening his death. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
KNB STEPS UP INTEREST IN OTHER CHRISTIAN GROUPS 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
6. (C) Klyushev told us that the
KNB also appears to have 
taken action against other churches.  He reported that Pastor 
Pavel Kuptsov of the Word of Life Church in Karaganda was 
summoned by the KNB for questioning on January 3, and was 
interrogated daily until January 25, from 10 a.m. until 4 or 
5 p.m. each day, without breaks.  (Note: The Word of Life 
church is a registered Protestant Christian church.  End 
note.)  The interrogations were prompted by a complaint filed 
by the parents of a 19-year-old girl who had attended the 
church for some time and then ran away from home.  The 
parents accused the church of kidnapping her.  According to 
Klyushev, the girl had only attended the church a few times, 
and church members were able to find her shortly after 
Kuptsov,s interrogations began; she and her parents both 
filed statements with the KNB absolving the church of any 
responsibility. Nonetheless, the KNB persisted in 
interrogating Kuptsov, and questioned him intensely about the 
church's teachings, its relationship with foreign 
organizations, its funding from foreign sources, the source 
of the money the church used for construction of its 
building, and other religious groups in Karaganda. Kuptsov 
was not arrested or charged with a crime, and the church 
continues to operate. 
 
7. (C) In addition, Klyushev said that the KNB recently 
stepped up its interest in him.  Klyushev, who also pastors a 
New Life Church in Astana, said that in recent weeks two of 
his close associates were separately approached by officers 
from the KNB Department for Combat Against Extremism and 
Terrorism and pressured to work as informants and provide 
information about Klyushev and his activities.  He said that 
both of his associates refused, and told Klyushev about the 
meetings despite being warned not to. Klyushev speculated 
that the KNB does not really need informants, given their 
technical abilities to intercept conversations and perform 
surveillance; instead, he believes the KNB is recruiting 
people to eventually serve as witnesses in some future court 
action. 
 
-------------------- 
MEDIA JOINS THE FRAY 
-------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Several newspapers have reported on the Grace Church 
investigation since its inception, generally portraying the 
church very negatively and playing up the espionage/treason 
angle as much as possible.  On January 29, for example, 
pro-government newspaper Liter published an article entitled 
"Deceptive Grace," with the subheading "Foreign Spies 
Operated under the Cover of a Church." The article reported 
that the KNB has found substantial evidence that the church 
is engaged in intelligence activities, and repeated the 
allegation that illegal drugs and materials inciting 
inter-faith discord were found during the Karaganda raid. 
The article also repeated the link to Tsoy, the Almaty 
businessman. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
INVESTIGATION LINKED TO RAKHAT ALIYEV? 
-------------------------------------- 
 
9. (SBU) A few news reports in recent months have linked the 
Grace Church case to the Rakhat Aliyev investigation.  On 
December 3, 2007, Ferghana.ru published an article by Rinat 
Saydullin reporting that, in addition to the raids on the 
Grace Churches on August 24, 2007, the KNB also raided the 
local offices of the Christian Association for Prison 
Aftercare in Ust-Kamenogorsk.  The Association is a religious 
prison ministry with ties to many churches, including the 
Grace Church.  KNB officers reportedly seized a computer and 
other documents from the head of the local Association and 
told him that he was a witness in a treason case.  They then 
questioned him extensively about the national head of the 
Association, businessman Sergey Manevich, and Manevich,s 
ties to Rakhat Aliyev. (Note: Manevich is frequently 
identified in the press as a close associate of Aliyev. On 
December 25, 2007, the Vremya newspaper reported that 
Manevich was being investigated along with Aliyev and Alnur 
Musayev for organizing and running a criminal gang, though 
Manevich has not been put on trial with Aliyev.  End note.) 
 
10. (SBU) On January 25, Delovaya Nedelya published a broad 
report on the Aliyev investigation, and speculated that the 
 
ASTANA 00000357  003 OF 003 
 
 
Grace Church pastors may become witnesses in the closed trial 
of Aliyev and Musayev.  The same article also described the 
KNB's October 23, 2007 detention of Anatoliy Rebrov, who was 
arrested as part of the same overall investigation into 
Aliyev and all of his associates.  According to the article, 
his Almaty apartment "looked like a wireless interception 
center." 
 
11. (SBU) These news reports followed a statement purportedly 
from Tsoy,s wife, Natalya Filippova, which appeared on the 
Free Asia website (www.freeas.org) on October 30, 2007, 
claiming that Tsoi has been accused of importing 
eavesdropping devices into Kazakhstan.  Filippova appealed 
for help, explaining that her husband is an honest 
businessman, is sick, and has been detained since July 9, 
2007 in a KNB pre-trial investigation facility without any 
formal charges.  She said that he is accused of working for 
the CIA and Western intelligence and of importing 
eavesdropping devices into Kazakhstan.  She denied all the 
charges, and claimed that someone in the government or close 
to the president wants to seize her husband's business. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
INVESTIGATION COORDINATED BY KNB IN ASTANA 
------------------------------------------ 
 
12. (SBU) Local officials, such as the religious affairs 
official in the Karaganda Oblast administration, routinely 
tell the press that they do not know the reasons for the 
Grace Church investigation, and that it is being handled by 
the KNB in Astana.  Amanbek Mukhashov, the deputy chairman of 
the Religious Issues Committee in the Ministry of Justice and 
a frequent Embassy contact on religious freedom issues, 
consistently has been unable to offer information beyond what 
is reported in the press.  Responding to concerns about the 
investigation raised by the US delegation at the OSCE 
permanent council meeting on February 7, 2008, Kazakhstan's 
OSCE representative Kairat Abdrakhmanov stated that "(a)s far 
as the Grace Presbyterian Church is concerned, I would like 
to inform that some of its activists in some cases go beyond 
their usual church activity."  He offered to provide further 
information at a later date. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
13. (C) The timing of the investigation, the central KNB's 
control, the consistent indications of treason charges, and 
the connections between some of the people involved all 
suggest that that there is more to this case than the 
religious persecution of a non-traditional religious group. 
Nevertheless, the KNB has long perceived the Grace Church as 
a threat to Kazakhstan, as evidenced by previous public 
comments by the deputy
 chief commander of the KNB Counter 
Terrorism Center (reftel). As a result, it appears that the 
authorities are using this opportunity for a very deep and 
wide-ranging investigation of one of the most active 
non-traditional religious groups in the country. The 
investigation and the accompanying negative media attention 
threaten the future of the Grace Church in Kazakhstan, and 
raise the prospect of wider pressure on other non-traditional 
groups by using charges that are ostensibly not related to 
purely religious beliefs or activities. 
 
 
ORDWAY

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