KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 11.00, 19 February 2001

I. TURKMENISTAN: DETENTIONS AND BEATINGS PRECEDE
DEPORTATION? Two Baptists were detained in the eastern city of
Turkmenabad and reportedly severely beaten by officers of Turkmenistan's
political police, the KNB (former KGB) on 15 February. Aleksandr Frolov
was forced to watch as Yevgeny Potolov was subjected to repeated and
sustained beatings during 14 hours of interrogation. Potolov was told he is to
be deported, a common fate for foreign citizens active in religious
communities in Turkmenistan.

II. UKRAINE: PUBLIC PROSECUTOR HALTS PENTECOSTAL
CHURCH'S HEALING MINISTRY. The healing ministry to drug addicts
and alcoholics offered by a Pentecostal church in the town of Vinnitsa is
under threat after the regional prosecutor issued a banning order on 13
February, putting a stop to such �medical treatment� until a licence from the
Ministry of Health is obtained. The ban has been rejected by the local
religious affairs official, who complained that his office had not been
consulted. The church hopes the ban will be overturned soon so that the
ministry can resume.

I. TURKMENISTAN: DETENTIONS AND BEATINGS PRECEDE
DEPORTATION?

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Two Baptists were detained in the eastern city of Turkmenabad (formerly
Chardjou) and reportedly severely beaten by officers of Turkmenistan's
political police, the KNB (former KGB), ahead of an apparent move to
deport one of them from the country. According to a statement from local
Baptists passed to Keston News Service by the US-based Russian
Evangelistic Ministries, Aleksandr Frolov was forced to watch as Yevgeny
Potolov was subjected to repeated and sustained beatings during 14 hours of
interrogation at Turkmenabad's KNB headquarters on 15 February. Potolov
was told he is to be deported, a common fate for foreign citizens active in
religious communities in Turkmenistan.

Baptist sources in Moscow told Keston on 19 February that both were freed
two days earlier and are back at home, Potolov in the Caspian port of
Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk) - to which he was sent back by the
KNB - and Frolov in Turkmenabad. It remains unknown if the Turkmen
authorities will carry through their threat to deport Potolov.

The two Baptists belong to a congregation affiliated with the Council of
Churches of Evangelical Christians/Baptists, a group uniting congregations
in many former Soviet republics. Although Keston has been unable to verify
Potolov and Frolov's maltreatment independently, reports distributed through
the Council of Churches have a long track record of reliability.

`Yevgeny was savagely beaten, first struck on the head with a stick, then
beaten with the stick on his legs, hips and shinbones,' local Baptists wrote in
a 16 February statement. `One of the agents sat on the brother as he was
lying, while the other agent struck the soles of his feet with a stick. This
continued for five minutes. After this the brother could not get up. The
agents also struck him on the chest with their fists.'

Potolov and Frolov were arrested on the street in the evening of 14 February
by the police, who searched them thoroughly. `Pointing at the Bible, the
officers said that it is a forbidden book,' Baptists report (despite the fact that
the Bible is nowhere banned in published Turkmen law and is the holy book
of the Russian Orthodox Church also, which has state registration in the
country). The two were then transported to the special detention cell, where
they spent the night.

The following morning they were transferred to the KNB building, where
both were beaten in an attempt to force them to write a statement about their
religious activity. `The interrogation was conducted by a KNB agent, Durdy
Khomedov,' the Baptists claim. `On his orders, two other agents,
Khudaberdiev and Kakadjan Yazgurov physically assaulted the brothers.'
The beatings were particularly directed at Potolov as the officers believed
the sight of his colleague being beaten would force Frolov to write a
statement. `The beating continued for four hours. During all this time, both
brothers were verbally assaulted with the most indecent expressions,
pressuring them psychologically.' The interrogation - which began at 9 am -
finally ceased at 11 pm.

At 4 o'clock in the morning on 16 February, Potolov was forcibly placed on
the Dashkhovuz to Turkmenbashi train in the direction of Turkmenbashi, at
the other side of the country. Just before being transported from the KNB
headquarters in Turkmenabad he was told that he is to be deported.

Six Baptist families active in local congregations of the Council of Churches
are known to have been deported from Turkmenistan in the past two years
despite having legal residence in the country (see KNS 26 May 2000). All
were Russian or Ukrainian citizens. Hundreds of foreign citizens active with
other faiths - including members of other Protestant churches, Muslims,
Jehovah's Witnesses and Hare Krishna devotees - have also been deported.
(END)


II. UKRAINE: PUBLIC PROSECUTOR HALTS PENTECOSTAL
CHURCH'S HEALING MINISTRY

by Anna Vassilyeva, Keston News Service

The healing ministry to drug addicts and alcoholics offered by a Pentecostal
church in the town of Vinnitsa, 220 kilometres (140 miles) south west of the
capital Kiev, is under threat after the regional prosecutor issued a banning
order. The Resurrection of Christ Church was instructed on 13 February
immediately to halt `the medical treatment of citizens at religious services -
until receipt of a licence from the Ministry of Health'. The order sent to the
church's pastor, Frederick Ankai-Taylor, of which Keston News Service has
received a copy, warned that failure to comply `will carry with it
accountability to the city administration'. The ban on treating the sick
through prayer and confession has been rejected by the local religious affairs
official, who complained to Keston that his office had not been consulted.
The church hopes the ban will be overturned soon so that the ministry can
resume.

The Resurrection of Christ Church, registered in Vinnitsa in 1992, now
attracts a weekly attendance of around 1,000. Pastor Ankai-Taylor told
Keston that `over the past two years' the church has been using a building
provided rent-free by the city council for its ministry to drug addicts and
alcoholics.

The prosecutor's order is based on the findings of a medical commission of
six people (of which Keston has also received a copy), established under a
decree of the regional administration of the Ministry of Health of 4 October
2000. Using `video-tape materials' and `after visiting the so-called
rehabilitation centre', the commission concluded that the building `does not
meet sanitary standards' and the `methods' employed by the pastor were
`unscientific'. It also ruled that `the pastor, while himself holding a high level
of medical education, was deceiving people', and his `method of "prayer and
confession" had not been approved by the Ministry of Health or by any other
medical establishment'.

Prosecutor's aide Natalya Krapivnitskaya told Keston she believed `the order
to stop healing work did not constitute interference in the internal affairs of
the church'. `It's the pastor who is interfering with our state and breaking its
laws,' she declared on 15 February by telephone from Vinnitsa. She says the
church published announcements about its healing ministry, but that `a
licence was needed for that', adding that the prosecutor intervened after
allegations by `numerous' citizens and organisations. She declined to say
how many such complaints had been received, but said `there were enough
of them'. `People fell down in a heap during prayers with the laying on of
hands,' she complained. `The prosecutor talked with the pastor several times
and I thought they understood one another, but evidently not absolutely, as
the pastor has appealed to Keston.'

The head of the department for religious affairs, Yevgeny Zaremba,
disagreed, telling Keston by telephone on 16 February that the order
`constitutes state interference in church affairs, given that the church is
separate from the state'. `We have never received any complaints about this
denomination,' he added. `If there are complaints, they should be considered
in court.' He confirmed that an Adventist community carries out a similar
ministry and `to forbid them to do that would be tantamount to forbidding
the church from existing. The prosecutor should seek a decision from us or
from the expert commission of the State Committee for Religious Affairs.'

`We cannot conduct prayers with the laying on of hands because of this
order,' the assistant pastor Aleksandr Bondar told Keston by telephone on 15
February. He said they had just lodged a complaint with the United
Independent Charismatic Churches of Ukraine. `We hope we can resume our
ministry.'

Pastor Ankai-Taylor blames the dispute on the `intolerant attitude' of the
Orthodox Church and officials of the city administration which, he says, they
have experienced from the beginning. The prosecutor's order was preceded
by an anti-Charismatic campaign in the local press. Pastor Bondar told
Keston that on 12 February their church had issued a writ against the local
newspaper Kanal 33, which was forced to print a retraction. However,
neither Krapivnitskaya nor Zaremba would say if the Orthodox Church had
exerted any influence on the decision.

Pastor Ankai-Taylor reported that an auction due on 29 January, at which the
community was expecting to buy the building housing the rehabilitation
centre, was postponed, although the reasons were not divulged. He maintains
the postponement came precisely when `the next step would have been the
purchase of the building'. (END)

Copyright (c) 2001 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.