Kazakhstan: Pastor Deported, Orthodox Priest to Follow?

Baptist pastor Viktor Lim was ordered deported from Kazakhstan for leading a registered religious community and left in mid-August. Lim, a stateless person, had lived in the country for 20 years and his wife and children are Kazakh citizens.

According to Felix Corley, of the Forum 18 News Service, the authorities classed his action as "illegal missionary activity" for which punishment is a fine and, for non-citizens, deportation.

"The appeal hearing lasted just 10 minutes - it was a pure formality," Pastor Lim complained to Forum 18 News Service.

Zhumagul Alimbekov, head of the Religious Affairs Department of Almaty Region, which lodged the suit against Pastor Lim, refused absolutely to discuss his deportation or the moves to deport Russian Orthodox priest Fr. Sofrony.

"I can't comment on court decisions," he told Forum 18. Asked why foreign citizens or people who have no citizenship cannot exercise their internationally-recognized right to freedom of religion or belief while legally resident in the country he put the phone down.