Issue 6, Article 18, 22 June 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.

Thursday 22 June 2000

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

An American Protestant missionary who was told earlier in the year that he had
been barred from the Russian Federation `permanently' has been refused entry
to Kazakhstan despite holding a valid visa. DAVID BINKLEY, of the North
Atlanta Church of Christ in the US state of Georgia, was to have assisted
preparations for a Christian children's camp when he was denied entry after
arriving at the airport in Kazakhstan's commercial centre Almaty on 6 June. His
wife GALINA BINKLEY, who holds a Russian Federation passport, was
allowed to enter the country, but returned to the United States with her
husband. Binkley believes the Russian authorities have shared their missionary
blacklist with the Kazakh authorities. An official of the Kazakh Foreign
Ministry in Astana told Keston News Service that the decision to refuse
Binkley entry lay with the Border Guard Service, a sub-division of the National
Security Committee (KNB, former KGB). An official of the Border Guard
Service in Almaty refused categorically to tell Keston the reason for the denial
of entry, or whether Binkley would be refused entry again if he returned to

Binkley's visit had been arranged by an Almaty-based company ARK, which is
organising a month-long Bible camp for 300 children near Almaty in July.
Binkley was to have assisted with the preparations for the camp on this visit
before returning to lead the camp.

Binkley told Keston from Atlanta on 20 June that the border guards at Almaty
airport appeared to be waiting for him when he and his wife reached the
passport window. `As the man was looking at my passport with visa pasted
inside, a female border guard agent approached him and took one look at my
passport and whispered to him: "Binkley, eta familiya" - that is the name. He
then laid mine aside and began to examine Galina's more closely. We were then
instructed to stand out in the hall against the wall. No reason was given.' Galina
was told she could go through to customs, but decided to wait with her husband
in a large room where two men watched them. `No-one would answer my
questions about why they were making us stay in this area. Several people
would come and look at my passport, and then go into an office and talk but
would never answer our questions. Once a person said I would be given an
answer in 20 minutes. Later someone said a person would be here in two hours
to explain things. We overheard them saying to each other that I would be
"deported". It was midnight when we arrived, and sometime in the morning an
agent with British Airways came to explain that they were instructed to send
me back.'

Binkley complains that no-one ever explained why the decision was taken to
deny him entry and send him back on the morning flight after seven hours at
the airport. `There were approximately 15 people involved in this activity.
They would not look directly at me or listen to my questions or requests. I
asked to call the US Embassy in Kazakhstan. They said it was no use as they
were all asleep. I said I wanted to call anyway, and they said they would try to
find a phone number. They never did. At least two or three people were
watching us the entire night. When I needed to use the toilet, someone escorted

Binkley said he had obtained his Kazakh visa at the Kazakhstan Embassy in
Washington, DC on 30 May. It was a triple entry visa, valid for three months
(from 4 June to 4 September). `The border guards did not make any visible
markings on this visa. It still appears the same as when I received it.'

Binkley told Keston that he believes that because the Russian authorities had
`permanently' revoked his visa after he had worked for some years as a pastor
in Magadan, he had been placed on a blacklist which the Russian authorities
had shared with the Kazakh government. However, the deputy head of the
consular department of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, BAGDAT
SEIDBATALOV, declared that Kazakhstan decided its own entry policy.
`Kazakhstan is an independent, sovereign country,' he told Keston by telephone
from Astana on 22 June. Seidbatalov said he was not familiar with Binkley's
case and could not therefore say why he had been denied entry, though he
added that if the Embassy in Washington had given him a visa, it had been
given legally. He said responsibility for the denial of entry lay with the border
guard service at Almaty airport. `Although the visa may have been valid, there
might have been procedural questions and that would be why he was refused

Contacted by telephone in Almaty on 22 June, NURLAN SAGIMBAYEV,
press secretary of the KNB's border guard service, confirmed that Binkley had
been denied entry on 6 June but refused absolutely to give the reason for the
denial, despite repeated requests. `I spoke to the border guards at the airport
and they affirm that they acted in accordance with the law of the Republic of
Kazakhstan on the state border, which gives them the right to refuse entry to
foreign citizens or people without citizenship.' Asked why Binkley had been
refused entry, Sagimbayev declared only: `I cannot comment on this.' He
declined to ring the border guards at Almaty airport again to find out why and
declined to give Keston their telephone number. He also declined to comment
on whether Binkley's visa remained valid. Told that Binkley believed he was
on a Russian blacklist that the Russian authorities had shared with the Kazakh
authorities, Sagimbayev declared that what happened in Russia had no bearing
on decisions taken by the Kazakh authorities. `No blacklist exists in
Kazakhstan,' he stated categorically.

The United States embassy in Almaty has not yet been involved in Binkley's
case, JUDY MOON, the embassy press officer, told Keston on 20 June.
`Neither the consular or human rights officers have any information about Mr.
Binkley's case. Naturally both are interested in contacting Mr. Binkley.' BERIK
SADIKOV, the consul of the Kazakh embassy in Washington which had given
Binkley the visa, declared on 21 June he would look into the question of the
denial of entry and whether the visa was still valid, but failed to get back to

The director of ARK told Keston the children's camp would go ahead as
planned next month. ASKHAD TERZEKBAYEV declared on 20 June that the
denial of entry had been a `misunderstanding' which his company had already
taken up with the authorities. He believes the matter will be resolved

Binkley does not share the view that the incident resulted from a
misunderstanding. `If the refusal for me to enter the country was just a
"misunderstanding", it was a big one. We never understood why the authorities
at the airport would not give me an answer to why I was being denied entry to
Kazakhstan. Why all the secrecy?' However, he added that his North Atlanta
church has received some assurances that the workers coming for the camp this
year will not encounter the same problems he had. (END)