Cultural Revolutions

A Crackdown On Christians

Nursultan Nazarbayev’s regime in Kazakhstan, a recipient of U.S. foreign-aid funds, is cracking down on religious groups it disapproves of, as the congregations associated with Grace Presbyterian Church discovered firsthand this past August, when the KNB (the Kazakh successor to the Soviet-era KGB) raided churches in Karaganda and Oskemen.  Since then, raids, detentions of church members, fines, property confiscations, and other forms of official harassment have mounted, particularly against Protestant congregations across the country, while Grace Senior Pastor Igor Kim, his sister, and the church administrator, as well as the pastor of a Grace-affiliated congregation, face unspecified charges of high treason and possible prison sentences of 10 to 15 years.

Kazakh President-for-life Nazarbayev rules a vast territory (the world’s ninth-largest state) rich in oil, natural gas, and uranium.  The Nazarbayev clan has ruled this former Soviet republic since the clan’s patriarch, a former blast-furnace operator turned Communist Party functionary, took over in 1990, securing his post-Soviet power in a series of rigged elections.  Nazarbayev is in a complex balancing act with Russia (ethnic Russians make up 30 percent of the country’s population), China, and the United States.  All of them want access to Kazakh resources, while Washington in particular hopes to involve the Nazarbayev regime in Washington’s...

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