Tuesday 7 March 2000
FIFTEEN-DAY SENTENCE FOR TURKMEN BAPTIST

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Turkmen Baptist CHARIYAR ATAKOV, who was arrested on 3 March in the
town of Kaakhka southwest of the capital Ashgabad (see KNS 6 March 2000),
has been given a fifteen-day administrative sentence, according to information
reaching the Friedensstimme Mission in Germany. Although it is unknown
which specific article of the Administrative Code he has been punished under,
it is believed to relate to `disobeying the authorities'. Atakov, who is married
with two young boys, is the brother of the Baptist prisoner SHAGELDY
ATAKOV.

Meanwhile, the Friedensstimme Mission reports that fellow Baptist MIKHAIL
KOZLOV, who was detained in Ashgabad in early February, has been able to
recover his car that was confiscated at the time of his arrest (see KNS 8
February 2000). Kozlov was detained at the same time as ANATOLI
BELYAYEV on 2 February, but while Kozlov was freed the following day,
Belyayev remains in prison, although as far as is known he is yet to face any
trial.

These Baptists are members of congregations that belong to the Council of
Churches of Evangelical Christians/Baptists, which refused registration during
the Soviet era and has declined to register its congregations in any of the
republics of the former Soviet Union since 1991.

Turkmenistan does not in practice allow Protestant Christian churches to gain
official registration and punishes unregistered religious activity as illegal.
(END)