By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN (Worthy News)– A Christian father of three has been jailed in Kazakhstan for refusing to pay a fine for leading a worship service in his own home, according to Barnabas Aid.
Denis Yenenko was imprisoned for six days last month after failing to pay 86,550 Tenge (US$475) following a raid on his house in Sergeyevka last year. During his detention, Yenenko had developed a severe toothache, but he was left to suffer for four days before the tooth was finally extracted.
Yenenko was originally fined for "participation in the activity of an unregistered, halted or banned religious community or social organization" after eight worshippers were found singing psalms during a meeting in his home.
This year alone, 39 people have been fined for exercising their religious freedoms in Kazakhstan. Of these, 33 were Baptists whose denomination refuses on principle to seek state permission for its religious activities.
"A main problem concerning the administration of religious registration is that non-registered religious groups can hardly exercise any collective religious functions in Kazakhstan," said Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. "Any of their activities — even the common performance of prayers and rituals in private homes — are deemed illegal and can incur serious administrative sanctions."