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Kazakh Officials Permit Hare Krishna Cleric To Enter

Bhakti Bringa Govinda Swami in Almaty
Bhakti Bringa Govinda Swami in Almaty
ALMATY -- In an apparent reversal of policy, Kazakh officials have allowed an official representative of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness -- known as the Hare Krishna movement -- to enter Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The president of the Krishna Followers’ Community in Almaty, Galina Galaus, told RFE/RL that U.S. citizen Bhakti Bringa Govinda Swami arrived in Almaty from Delhi on March 26.

According to Galaus, representatives from the Kazakh State Committee on Religions, the Prosecutor-General’s Office, and the Committee of National Security met Swami at the airport and officially informed customs officers that Swami's name had been removed from Kazakhstan's list of unwanted individuals.

No explanations were given, says Galaus.

On January 27, Swami was deported from Kazakhstan without any explanations after landing at Almaty airport, even though he had a valid visa.

Restrictions on the religious practices of non-Muslims are widespread in Central Asia.

Earlier this year, municipal authorities in Almaty ordered followers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to vacate premises they owned in the city by February 28.

In 2008, Hare Krishna followers in Kazakhstan were officially deprived of their place of worship and of private residences constructed on land they had purchased on the outskirts of Almaty in the late 1990s.