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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhs Target Churches

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Kazakhstan's upper house of parliament approved a bill Thursday that backers say will help combat religious extremism but critics call a blow to freedom of belief.

The bill approved by the Senate will require existing religious organizations to dissolve and register again through a procedure that is virtually guaranteed to exclude smaller groups, including minority Christian communities.

Rights activist Ninel Fokina said the rules would greatly complicate the life of Lutherans, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses.