Kazakh Religious Affairs Body Intervenes in Row Over Krishna Sect

[Presenter] The authorities and NGOs have started to intervene in a dispute between locals and followers of the Krishna [religious sect]. The latter have been striving to acquire land in the Bereke village in [southern] Almaty Region. Local government bodies brought to account the religious sect on charges of breaching the law last year. Yet the latter has declared that they disagree with the court decision and are trying to appeal to international organizations.

[Passage omitted: Video shows followers of the sect and locals disputing; locals saying the sect is luring away the youth]

[Correspondent] Locals gathered to meet a special commission arriving from Astana and to talk about issues that have been bothering them for long. The commission headed by Amanbek Mukashev, deputy chairman of the Committee for Religious Affairs, arranged a separate meeting with locals. The outraged residents, who have been conflicting with the Krishna sect for seven years, had a lot to say.

[Passage omitted: locals complaining]

[Correspondent] The locals say followers of the Krishna sect think they are owners of the local area. Locals were complaining for three hours. Discontent with the neighbours has turned into a real conflict. Also, a court found that the sect had been using summer houses [of its followers] unlawfully.

[Amanbek Mukashev, deputy chairman of Justice Ministry’s Committee for Religious Affairs, captioned] The takeover of summer houses belonging to followers of the sect without legal procedures is unlawful. Moreover, there is a hostel for 20-40 followers of the sect. This is an illegally-built house since there are no permissions [from local authorities].

[Correspondent] There are over 66 summer houses used by the Krishnany Tanu [Krishna Consciousness] commune for prayers, preaching and various rituals. A couple of these houses were returned to the state by a court decision, the fate of the rest is being considered in courts. Meanwhile, members of the sect keep saying they are acting on behalf of God.

[Passage omitted: a follower of the sect speaking]

[Correspondent] The first followers of Krishna appeared in the area in 1998. The Krishna Consciousness commune was established here four years ago. Now there are over 47 ha of land belonging to the sect. The special commission from Astana listened to both sides of the dispute. Results of their four-day inspection will be submitted to a court.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Kazakh TV, via BBC Monitoring, Kazahkstan
Oct. 2, 2006

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This post was last updated: Friday, October 6, 2006 at 8:46 AM, Central European Time (CET)