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Kazakh Scientologists Appeal Church Closure


Vadim Vitushkin (file photo)

Vadim Vitushkin (file photo)

QARAGHANDY -- The leader of the Church of Scientology in the central Kazakh city of Qaraghandy has said he will appeal a decision to close their church, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The Qaraghandy Appeals Court on June 12 upheld a lower-court decision to close the church.

Church leader Vadim Vitushkin told RFE/RL that if the decision to close his church stands, then other churches could face closure in the future. He said the closure of his church violates Kazakh law and the rights of the 5,000 followers of the Church of Scientology in Qaraghandy.

The Church of Scientology was officially registered in Kazakhstan in 2000 and has since come under pressure numerous times.

The Qaraghandy court ruled the church's activities were "threatening Kazakhstan's stability and security."

Vitushkin estimated there are more than 30,000 Scientologists in Kazakhstan.
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