KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 20.00, 30 January 2001

I. TURKMENISTAN: PENTECOSTAL CHURCH CONFISCATION APPEAL
TOMORROW. Pastor given less than 24 hours notice of appeal hearing tomorrow.

II. TURKMENISTAN: HEAVY FINE HERALDS NEW CAMPAIGN? Turkmenistan's
beleaguered Protestant minority fears that a heavy fine levied today (30 January) on a
Pentecostal Christian in the capital Ashgabad heralds a new campaign in the government's
self-imposed mission of `throttling' what is left of the Protestant churches.

I. TURKMENISTAN: PENTECOSTAL CHURCH CONFISCATION APPEAL
TOMORROW

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

The city court of the Turkmen capital Ashgabad is to consider Pentecostal pastor Viktor
Makrousov's appeal against the confiscation of the city's Pentecostal church tomorrow (31
January). The hearing is due to begin at 10 am. Pastor Makrousov told Keston News
Service from Ashgabad today (30 January) that he was informed of the new date and time
only at 4 pm today.

The hearing was to have taken place on 24 January, but was postponed at the last minute
because the judge was `not ready' (see KNS 24 January 2001). (END)

II. TURKMENISTAN: HEAVY FINE HERALDS NEW CAMPAIGN?

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Turkmenistan's beleaguered Protestant minority fears that a heavy fine levied today (30
January) on a Pentecostal Christian in the capital Ashgabad heralds a new campaign in the
government's self-imposed mission of `throttling' what is left of the Protestant churches.

Pentecostal pastor Viktor Makrousov told Keston News Service from Ashgabad today (30
January) that a member of his church, Yelena Shvetsova, was visited by five officials at 7
am this morning. She was taken to the police station and then the khyakimlik (local
administration), where she was fined one million manat (some 50 US dollars), four months'
average wages.

Shvetsova was not informed of the article of the Administrative Code under which the fine
was levied, but believes it to be Article 205, a Soviet-era provision still being applied in
Turkmenistan that punishes unregistered religious activity. Fines under this article
generally average one month's average wages and it is not clear why the fine this time was
so high.

Pastor Makrousov told Keston that the authorities are now `looking for others to bring in to
fine'. He believes this is the start of a renewed campaign to crush Protestant churches.
`Others in the Church of Christ [another Protestant church in Ashgabad] are being
summoned. We will know by the end of the week how many more will have been
summoned and fined.' Asked why the government is apparently stepping up the campaign
now he responded: `So that there'll be fewer believers.'

Pastor Makrousov is due in Ashgabad city court tomorrow (31 January) for his appeal
against the local authorities' suit to confiscate a house he owns in Ashgabad which the
Pentecostal community uses as its church (see separate KNS article).

He is also due in the court of Ashgabad's Niyazov district late this week or early next week
for his appeal hearing against fines levied against himself, his wife, his daughter and a
female member of his church. The four were each fined 250,000 manats under Article 205
of the Administrative Code late last year for their involvement in activity with the church.
`I have already paid the fine,' Makrousov told Keston, `as they took away my passport until
I paid.' Although he received back the passport on paying the million manats on behalf of
the four, he rejects the fines as an unjust penalty on those simply trying to exercise their
right to religious practice. (END)

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