At present, representatives of 130 ethnic groups and 18 religious denominations live in Kazakhstan, among them – Muslims, Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists. Throughout the country, many mosques and temples are operating and being built, which are actively visited by believers.

Religious freedoms in the Republic of Kazakhstan are guaranteed by Article 14 of the country’s Constitution, which prohibits any discrimination based on religion, and Article 19 guarantees that everyone «has the right to determine and indicate or not indicate their national, party and religious affiliation».

By the way, according to Gallup1 research, the level of religiosity of the population of Kazakhstan is the lowest in the region of Central Asia – 43%. Nevertheless, individual representatives of the international and human rights communities (the State Department, the ODIHR2, etc.) repeatedly voiced unfounded criticism of the state of religious freedoms in the republic.

However, according to the latest USCIRF3 reports, there is notable progress towards establishing religious freedom in Kazakhstan. Thus, the document notes that in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to these indicators, Kazakhstan is in 4th place among 14 countries (Russia – 13, Uzbekistan – 12, Kyrgyzstan – 11).

September 14-15 this year Nur-Sultan will host one of the most significant international events of the year – the Congress of World and Traditional Religions, during which the visit of the head of the Catholic Church and the state of the Vatican – the Pope, as well as 130 delegations from 60 countries of the world is expected. We can openly say that this platform is unique, which brings together the first clerics of the world, ex-heads of state, representatives of international and public organizations and world media.

The planned event of world significance, where Kazakhstan acts as a state committed to the ideas of tolerance, openness, mutual respect and trust between the authorities and religious associations of the country, testifies to the high confidence on the part of the leaders of international confessions and the recognition of the Republic of Kazakhstan as a crossroads of many world religions.

June 28-30 this year in Washington (USA) at the 2nd Summit on Religious Freedom, the speech of the head of the «Union of Evangelical Christians of Kazakhstan» Y. Shumaev took place, which debunked the existing negative myths regarding the religious environment in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In his speech, the religious leader noted the openness to dialogue, as well as the trusting attitude on the part of state structures to the believing environment, which is reflected in the wide opportunities for followers of all confessions and religions to meet their spiritual needs.

As an example, he shared the positive experience of the participation of the «Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith of Kazakhstan» in joint charitable activities with the authorities to provide assistance to socially vulnerable segments of the population. Since 2021, the organization has allocated funding in the amount of more than 10 million tenge for the humanitarian direction.

In response to the questions asked by the American audience, Yuri Shumaev stated with full confidence that there were no facts of persecution of Protestants in Kazakhstan. He also explained that the measures taken by the Kazakhstani power structures to ensure public security apply to all citizens, regardless of religion, nationality and gender.

After listening to the report of the Kazakh religious figure, USCIRF representatives emphasized the importance of his theses and supported the initiatives of the Union in building a dialogue between the state and the religious community.

In general, the ongoing events contribute to the formation of an objective opinion of the international human rights environment about the positive interfaith situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the preservation of interethnic harmony in the religious environment.

[1] American Institute of Public Opinion.

2 Bureau for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

3 US Commission on International Religious Freedom.