A Kazakh Christian has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment at a labour camp, after an initial seven-year sentence of restricted freedom at home went to an appeal.

Yklas Kabduakasov, 54, a Seventh-day Adventist, was convicted of inciting religious hatred while talking to others about his faith. He and his fellow church members denied the offense.

Kabduakasov, who has eight children, was initially convicted on 9 November. The latest court hearing took place on 28 December in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

Meanwhile, a Baptist church in the west of Kazakhstan has come to the end of a three-month ban on its activities, for failing to pay a fine imposed in September to punish it for running a children’s summer camp away from its registered legal address.

The Transfiguration Church, from Darinskoe village near the northern border with Russia, incurred the ban after it failed to raise enough funds to pay the $1,500 fine.

Kazakhstan has had particularly restrictive rules on religion since 2011, when, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, churches were forced to re-register. Hefty fines are given for any religious activity without permission.

Source: Forum 18