Unregistered churches are sometimes monitored by the government.
An unregistered church in Oral was fined after a police raid in January, and officials continue to monitor the congregation regularly.
On Jan. 8, police and officials from the Religious Affairs Department raided the church’s Christmas service, taking several members of the congregation to the police station. They fined two members the equivalent of one month’s salary. Since then, an official has been present to monitor church meetings. For the last six months, the official has been the same woman, who sits in the back and records the meetings. She also counts how many people are there and tracks attendees. “Let her come and hear the word of God,” one church member said. “We don’t allow her to record, but she still does it.” Another pastor from elsewhere in Kazakhstan said it used to be common for officials to monitor church services but is now rarer.