TURKMENISTAN: Pentecostal Paster Loses Appeal against Church Confiscation.

by Lorna Howard, Keston News Service, 12 April 2001

The city court in the Turkmen capital Ashgabad ruled on 4 April that the house used as the city’s Pentecostal church should be confiscated without compensation, upholding the 14 March decision of the Kopetdag district court (see KNS 14 March 2001). Pastor Viktor Makrousov, who owns the house, told Keston News Service from Ashgabat on 12 April that he is preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan, but that the church could be confiscated at any time.

Another source in Ashgabad told Keston on 11 April that the court did not take into account the defendant’s claim that the previous court hearing had been conducted with serious violations of proper court procedure. The prosecutor maintained the previous position – that Makrousov purchased the house for illegal religious purposes and never intended to live there.

Asked about the legality of religious meetings in private houses, a further source told Keston by telephone from Ashgabad on 12 April that such gatherings were not against the law. Yet in court it was claimed that Pastor Makrousov had repeatedly been warned not to hold ‘illegal’ religious meetings. Makrousov said that he felt his character as a law-abiding citizen was being called into question.

The congregation has not been meeting in the church since November, Pastor Makrousov said, and they would have to celebrate Easter elsewhere (END).