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Christian-run rehab centre in Kazakhstan fined and shut down for three months


12 February 2015

A drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre run by Christians in the village of Sychevka, Pavlodar Region, in north-eastern Kazakhstan, has been fined and closed down for three months following a court order upheld on 19 January.

Parliament buildings in Astana, the Kazakh capital
Parliament buildings in Astana, the Kazakh capital
Ken and Nyetta / CC BY 2.0

Both the Centre and its director, Yuri Morozov, have been fined for conducting illegal activity, according to Forum 18. A fine of 185,200 tenge (£660; €880; US$1,000; AU$1,300; NZ$1,360) was originally issued for the Centre by Judge Amangeldy Ishchanov of the Pavlodar District Court on 15 December for illegal activity that was not mentioned in the organisation’s statutes, including religious worship. This charge, which the Centre denies, was made after police seized 18 religious books and other materials in a raid on 9 March 2014.

According to Forum 18, a similar case against a Christian-run rehabilitation centre in Aksu was dropped after the court declared that the discovery of religious books and Christians in the centre was an insufficient basis for the allegation that it was a religious association.

In November 2014, another case against the Sychevka Centre, dating from 2010, in which its owners were accused of inciting religious hatred, was finally dropped after police admitted that no evidence had been found.

The rehabilitation centre housed 14 residents, all of whom had chosen to reside there and could leave at any time. Eight of the residents decided to leave after police raided the centre in March last year, scared after being questioned several times.