The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Kazakhs Drop Deportation Case Against B.B. Govinda Swami

By: on April 11, 2009
Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami is off the hook with the Kazakhstan government.
In a positive development for ISKCON in Kazakhstan, the government there has just closed its deportation case against Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami.

The case began on January 27, when the ISKCON leader was held without explanation at Almaty airport for twelve hours and denied entry into Kazakhstan, despite carrying a valid passport and visa.

Airport Officials told him that he was on the entry blacklist and refused to explain the denial of entry, claiming it was a “state secret.” They later said Govinda Swami had been deported because he had been found guilty of “illegal missionary activity” by Aktobe Regional court in 2008. This was despite the facts that such a case had never been heard, and that the supposed “illegal missionary activity” was simply a private talk Govinda Swami gave to devotees in Almaty, a registered religious community. Such harassment was typical of the Kazakh government since it raided the Hare Krishna community outside Almaty in 2006.

But when the director of ISKCON’s Almaty Society requested the General Prosecutor’s office to investigate Govinda Swami’s deportation, things began to take an upward turn. The Aktobe prosecutor agreed, and following the investigation withdrew the previous ruling.

Govinda Swami was then requested by the National Religious Committee to come to Kazakhstan to complete any formalities to assure that his name be removed from the blacklist.

On March 26, 2009, at 3:30 AM, Kairat Tulesov, Deputy Head of the National Religious Committee, accompanied by officers of the KNB and the General Prosecutor's Office received Govinda Swami in the Almaty airport. Mr. Tulesov welcomed him, escorted him through immigration, and assured him that the issue of his immigration was a closed case.

“With the amendments to the religious law having been rejected, religious persons being released from prison, and my deportation case being resolved, it appears that the Kazakhstan government is beginning to exhibit the will to have relationship through civil dialogue,” Govinda Swami said.

He added: “My deepest thanks to all the devotees around the world for your prayers and support. I humbly request that you continue to pray that the crisis of our society in Kazakhstan will soon be resolved.”
[ kazakhstan ]