Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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ISKCON: Kazakhstan Update
By B.B. Govinda Swami   |  May 01, 2007

Dear devotees and friends,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Hare Krishna!!

Here is an update regarding our situation with the Kazakh government:

  • There have been a total of seventeen hearings in court.
  • There are twenty seven homeowners who have had cases brought against them.
  • Fourteen homes have already been demolished.
  • At the moment seven homes are meant to be demolished as the cases were lost in Provincial Court.
  • Four cases regarding six houses are still to be heard in the Provincial Court.
  • The case regarding our major one hundred and sixteen (116) acre property was lost in Provincial Court. This case has been appealed to Supervisory Panel of Provincial Court.
  • The case regarding the consortium of the Hungarian Society for Krishna Consciousness and the Almaty Society for Krishna Consciousness, which is the rightful owner of the one hundred and sixteen (116) acre property, will be heard on May 8, 2007 in the Supreme Court.
  • The case regarding the agricultural society Priozyerye, which is the rightful administrative body of the housing area in which the Krishna devotees live was lost in Provincial Court and was appealed to Supervisory Panel of Provincial Court.
  • We cannot win court cases as the judiciary is simply a puppet in the hands of influential persons.

A demolition crew came to the farm, just days prior to the OSCE meeting in Vienna, with the purpose of destroying five (5) homes. These cases had been heard in the absence of the home owners or their advocates. The cases had not been appealed to the provincial court. Still the government was violating its own laws ordering the demolition.

At the last second before the demolition began a person drove up in a black BMW and told the demolition crew to disperse.

The cases started against the Krishna believers are selective discrimination. No cases have been started against any of the other citizens of the area who are in the same legal situation.

When in Vienna at the OSCE meeting I met with Bolat Baikadamov. He was the head of the Kazakh delegation. Ninel Fokina of the Almaty Helsinki Commission participated in our meeting.

Baikadamov emphatically stressed that he had been instructed by the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan to deliver a message to OSCE, foreign government delegations, and to myself that the Kazakh government saw the issue of the Krishna Society as an obstacle to their aspirations to attain OSCE chairmanship.

Thus he expressed the government’s desire to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

He said that the president’s administration viewed the issue as “bad governance” of the Karasai district authorities, the government land committee, and the state controlled religious committee.

He very much stressed that the issue is directly under the guidance of the president’s administration and would no longer be dealt with by the above mentioned bodies.

I specifically asked him if the religious committee would govern our issue as I have been speaking to them for years that discrimination was taking place. Baikadamov clearly answered, no, the issue would be settled by the president’s administration.

He returned to Kazakhstan and went into the media to announce a solution to the issue had been reached with me while he was in Vienna. He said that I had agreed to accept one half (1/2) acre of land in the vicinity of Almaty city, that the government may consider land for our herd of cows, and that the government may consider compensation for the homes destroyed.

Our advisors in Kazakhstan have opined that this media blitz was conducted due to the arrival in Kazakhstan of the OSCE Chairman in Office Miguel Angelo Moratinos.

Our society sent a letter to the president’s administration and to the OSCE advisory committee requesting OSCE to participate as observers in the course of negotiations with the Kazakh Government on our issue.

As we heard no reply from the president’s administration my secretary spoke to Baikadamov on Friday April 20, 2007.

In the course of the conversation Baikadamov stated that our issue is not under the President’s administration, that it was never under the president’s administration, and that it will not be under the president’s administration. He said that the issue remains under the state religion committee under the guidance of Yeraly Tugzhanov.

His statement came as a total “about face.” When we informed Ninel Fokina of his statements she was dismayed as she had participated in the conversation.

Yeraly Tugzhanov has done nothing on our issue over the last month. He told us that he had liaised with the Almaty city administration and instructed us to apply for land in Almaty city to establish a temple. When we did so the Almaty city administration appeared to know nothing of the situation. Even today, the chairman of the religion committee in Almaty city told us that Tugzhanov has not given him any instruction from the capital.

Thus it appears that the Kazakh government is again playing the game of dragging out time, doing nothing, but sending signals to the world that the issue is being dealt with in order to secure its OSCE bid. In reality, nothing has been done.

Regarding freedom of assembly:

In March, in Tekeli city, Almaty Province, fourteen Krishna believers gathered in a person’s residence for a religious observance. Their meeting was disrupted by the police who accused them of conducting an illegal assembly. The police had a bus waiting, took all of the participants of the program, took their identification documents, and detained them at the police station for some hours. They were verbally abused for being Hindu followers and were pressurized to reveal the names of other Krishna believers in the Tekeli area. Only after some hours were they released by the police.

My humble request and prayer is that all of you will continue to pray for the devotees in Kazakhstan.

Please continue to contact officials in your respective foreign ministries that they would continue to bring the issue to the attention of their counterparts in Kazakhstan.

We may be pushed from our homes and property very soon. We will need to relocate around 45 devotees, 30 cows, and a wonderful pujari department.

For relocation we will require financial assistance from our well wishers around the world. We are humbly requesting everyone to help with this effort, even if a contribution of one cent, it will assist in the effort.

I hope that all of you are well, happy, and advancing in Krishna Consciousness.

With affectionate regards,
BB Govinda Swami

Visit to see the tragedy of the Krishna community in Kazakhstan.