TURKMENISTAN: Protestant Questioned as Manhunt Continues.

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service, 12 February 2001

Turkmenistan's political police the KNB (former KGB) have detained a young Protestant Christian three times for questioning in the past two weeks as the nationwide manhunt for a pastor and his colleagues continues. Sources in the Turkmen capital Ashgabad have told Keston News Service that the KNB questioned Nikolai Ognev on 29 January and on two occasions since then, once for a whole day and twice all morning, but he has not been arrested (correction to KNS 1 February 2001).

Ognev was taken in for questioning after he went to recover the car belonging to Protestant pastor Shokhrat Piriyev. Piriyev, pastor of an ethnic Turkmen church in the town of Bezmein near Ashgabad, who has been in hiding with two colleagues and their families since the end of last year after being beaten and tortured. All three families were expelled from their homes, which were then confiscated. The KNB apparently believed Ognev might have information about the whereabouts of Piriyev and his colleagues, Batyr Nurov and Umit Kochkarov.

Keston has learnt that a further church member, Babamurat Goiymov, who left for his home village near Turkmenabad (formerly Charjou) in the north-east of the country after the eviction of his three colleagues, returned to Ashgabad on 11 February. He had been repeatedly summoned by police in Turkmenabad, on one occasion being held for three days. (END)