Church raided in Kazakhstan

Officials who raided a Protestant church in Kazakhstan have defended their actions.

The raid was carried out on a church in Stepnogorsk in Kazakhstan's northern Akmola Region, as the Easter Sunday morning service was finishing

"The visiting pastor needed permission to preach here," Duman Uvaideldinov of Stepnogorsk police Criminal Investigation Department, who led the raid, insisted to Forum 18 News Service.

"He will receive an official warning."

According to Felix Corley, Editor of Forum 18 News Service, the raid followed a visit by a dual-role official of a state-backed "anti-sect" center and the local Internal Policy Department.

Pastor Igor Andreikin and others from New Life Pentecostal Church are also concerned by an apparent attempt to discredit or blackmail them.

Corley went on to say that an unidentified "law-enforcement officer" attempted to send two young women into a sauna session with men from the church, to be closely followed by two ordinary police officers.

Both the ordinary police and the KNB secret police have denied to Forum 18 that they had any involvement.

Pastor Andreikin told Forum 18 that as "boundaries have been crossed", there is nothing to stop officials planting drugs on church leaders or using other methods of framing them.

He told Forum 18 that he was going public on this case to try to stop such methods being used in future.