Kazakhstan escalates Hare Krishna crackdown

Work crews and police arrived early June 15 to demolish twelve more homes at the village in Karasai district outside Almaty, Kazakhstan, where an embattled Hare Krishna commune is based. “The houses were literally crushed into dust,” Hare Krishna spokesperson Maksim Varfolomeyev said. “By ten o’clock it was all over.” The temple remains standing, but the devotees have been ordered to destroy it. Human rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis said the local administration chief “doesn’t care about the political damage to Kazakhstan’s reputation—or to its desire to chair the OSCE.” Asked to explain the latest demolitions, one local official told the Norway-based rights watchdog Forum 18: “Here in Kazakhstan the Hare Krishnas are considered to be non-traditional.” (Forum 18, June 15) Ironically, the raid comes days after senior Kazakh officials arrived in Romania for an OSCE conference on combating discrimination. (Forum 18, June 6)

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