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Central Asia Central Asia is an often-forgotten region surrounded by powerful and influential countries such as Russia, China and Iran. Despite many natural resources such as oil and gas, most of the population of the region lives in poverty.

RUSSIA

MONGOLIA

KAZAKHSTAN Aral Sea

(NORTH CAUCASUS)

UZBEKISTAN

GEORGIA ARMENIA

TURKEY

KYRGYSTAN

AZERBAIJAN Caspian Sea

CHINA

TURKMENISTAN

TAJIKISTAN

SYRIA IRAQ

IRAN

AFGHANISTAN

PAKISTAN INDIA

The governance of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan has hardly changed in the 23 years since they became independent countries after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Elections are normally rigged and police brutality towards any organised non-government activity is commonplace. All of society is kept strictly under government control including religion. Islam is the main religion in each country but anyone (Muslim or Christian) whose beliefs are different from the government-approved religious bodies comes under close scrutiny.

AZERBAIJAN Population: 9.6 million Majority Religion: Islam (96%)

Christian population: 250,000 Persecution Category: Limited

President Ilham Aliev has ruled Azerbaijan since 2003, succeeding his father who was in power from 1969. Despite massive oil wealth and attempts to portray the country as modern and progressive, much of the population remains in poverty. There are serious restrictions on freedoms of religion, expression, speech and association. Most Christians are of Russian or Armenian ethnicity and belong to Orthodox churches, which enjoy relative freedom. A law passed in 2009 required the compulsory re-registration of all religious communities and was seen as designed to close down churches legally. Only two Protestant churches, both in the capital, Baku, have successfully re-registered. Dozens of other Protestant congregations – including Baptist and Pentecostal congregations – as well as hundreds of mosques and several Jehovah’s Witness communities have not been approved. Tight censorship is imposed on all religious literature and the Old Testament is on a banned list and has been confiscated during police raids.

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Central Asia

Church in Chains Global Guide  

The Church in Chains Global Guide lists 60 countries where Christians face persecution because of their faith. The Global Guide divides the...

Church in Chains Global Guide  

The Church in Chains Global Guide lists 60 countries where Christians face persecution because of their faith. The Global Guide divides the...

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