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Kazakhstan Refuses Entry To U.S. Hare Krishna Member

An American citizen representing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was deported from Kazakhstan without explanation this week.

Govinda Svami was invited by Kazakh members of the Hare Krishna movement and arrived at Almaty airport from Moscow on January 27. But Kazakh officials confiscated his passport -- even though it had a valid Kazakh visa -- and did not allow him to enter the country.

Svami was forced to fly back to Moscow the same day and received his passport only when he was in Moscow.

Kazakh officials refused to comment on the incident.

Almaty Helsinki Committee Chairwoman Ninel Fokina told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that the deportation of a foreigner can be carried out only with a court decision.

The Hare Krishna movement has been severely persecuted by Kazakh officials in recent years.