Although granted most favored nation status by the U.S. government, Kazakhstan, under the authoritarian president Nursultan Nazarbayev, is cracking down on Christians, particularly Protestant groups that have been established in recent years.
Chronicles magazine (December) reports that as the U.S. seeks to establish a strategic position in the Central Asian country because of its oil resources, the Nazarbayev regime has cracked down on nonOrthodox Christians, not only by forcing them to register with the government, but also by detaining church members, confiscating church property and other forms of official harassment.
The government has recently targeted Grace Church ministry, which has 13,000 members in 250 congregations, according to writer Wayne Allensworth. Government authorities leaked that police found “psychotropic” drugs during a search of Grace Church, “a move that smacks of Soviet-era KGB smear tactics,” Allensworth adds.
The regime expects religious affiliation to follow nationality, with Russians being Orthodox, and Kazachs and other Central Asian nationalities part of the officially controlled Muslim body. The state, however, is wary of “Islam breaking free of official channels and becoming a threat to the Nazarbayev regime.
So the crackdown on evangelical Christians—with particular emphasis on the harassment of converts from segments of the population that are traditionally Muslim—could also be part of an effort to appease Muslims.”