Issue 3, Article 27, 23 March 2000

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

Thursday 23 March 2000

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Following the deportation since December 1999 of five families active in
unregistered congregations of the Council of Churches of Evangelical
Christians/Baptists, a sixth family has now been targeted by the Turkmen
authorities for expulsion.

According to a report from Turkmen Baptists distributed through the Council
of Churches and made available to Keston News Service by the US-based
Russian Evangelistic Ministries, VITALI TERESHIN and his family are next
in line for expulsion. `From our fellow-believers in the town of Dashkhovuz, a
report has been received that officials of the OVIR [visa and registration office]
came today to the house where the Tereshin family lives,' the statement of 22
March declared, `and told them that tomorrow (within 24 hours) they are to be
deported from Turkmenistan. No legal bases for this, nor any documented
decision were shown to the Tereshin family.'

Keston has been able neither to verify the report independently, nor to
discover if the Tereshin family have yet arrived in Russia, but statements
issued through the Council of Churches have a long track record of reliability.
Contacted by telephone on 22 March, MURAD KARRIYEV, deputy chairman
of the government's Council for Religious Affairs in Ashgabad, declined
absolutely to discuss with Keston the issue of the deportation of Baptists.

The Tereshins have been frequently harassed for their activity in the
Dashkhovuz Baptist church. Their home was raided on 13 February by officers
of Turkmenistan's political police, the National Security Committee (KNB,
formerly KGB), who declared a religious meeting unlawful, issued a fine,
summoned Vitali Tereshin to the KNB station and confiscated his passport (see
KNS 6 March 2000).

The Turkmen authorities deported two leading members of the Baptist church
last December. ALEKSANDR YEFREMOV and his wife VERA SEMINA
(who are Russian citizens) were deported by train from the town of
Turkmenabad (formerly Charjou) on 22 December 1999 to the Russian town of
Saratov. VLADIMIR CHERNOV and his wife OLGA (who are Ukrainian
citizens) were deported by plane from Ashgabad to the Ukrainian capital Kiev
two days later.

ANATOLI BELYAYEV, his wife NATALYA and their daughter (all Russian
citizens) were deported by plane from the capital Ashgabad on 11 March.
YURI SENKIN, his wife TATYANA and their young daughter (also Russian
citizens), who lived in Mary, were deported by train to Russia on 13 March,
while VYACHESLAV SHULGIN, his wife OKSANA and their four children
(also Russian citizens), who also lived in Mary, were deported by train to
Russia on 19 March.

Turkmen officials have openly declared that they will deport all foreign
Baptists and will then `strangle' local Baptists.

The Russian embassy in Ashgabad and the Russian Foreign Ministry in
Moscow have so far done nothing to protect or assist their citizens (see KNS 14
March 2000). (END)

Copyright (c) 2000 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.