STATE AND RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATIONS IN KAZAKHSTAN:
LEGAL REGULATION AND POLITICAL CONTEXT
Roman PODOPRIGORA, Nargis KASSENOVA
Roman Podoprigora, D.Sc. (Law), Professor at the Caspian University (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
Nargis Kassenova, D.Sc. (Political Science), Associate Professor at KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
The article discusses the main features of social, political and legal status of religious associations in contemporary Kazakhstan. The data of sociological studies and the analysis of state policy and legislation allow drawing the conclusion that the ongoing religious revival and an increase in the number of religious associations in the post-Soviet period have not led to a significant growth in religiosity of the Kazakhstani society and dramatic change in the role of religion and religious associations in the political and public life. Nevertheless, after a certain period of liberalization (1991-2004), the state resumed tough control of the religious sphere and re-installed constraints on public activity of religious structures. This change was triggered, among other things, by processes of politicization of religion, mainly associated with Islamic associations or movements that are unrecognized or banned in Kazakhstan. Despite the principle of separation of religion from the state, stipulated in the legislation, the state develops its own policy in the religious sphere aimed at the consolidation of secularity of the Kazakhstani society. However, such consolidation—in the way it takes place in Kazakhstan—is accompanied by exerting pressure on believers and religious associations, the majority of which distance themselves from any political activity. The state also creates unequal opportunities for religious associations, cultivating the privileged status of the Spiritual Board of the Muslims of Kazakhstan and the Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan to gain more legitimation of the system both in its domestic and foreign policy.
Keywords: religious associations, Kazakhstan, religious policy, legislation on religious associations.