KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 11.00, 28 June 2001.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

TURKMENISTAN: FAMILIES TO FINANCE BAPTISTS'
DEPORTATION? Two Baptists living and working in Turkmenistan
were detained last Tuesday and are believed to be on the brink of
deportation, Keston News Service has learnt. Yevgeny Potolov and
Vyacheslav Kalataevsky are both believed to be Russian citizens and the
Turkmen authorities are reported to have asked the two men's families to
pay for their deportation. Hundreds of people active in religious groups -
including members of other Protestant churches, Muslims, Jehovah's
Witnesses and Hare Krishna devotees - have been deported in recent
years.

TURKMENISTAN: FAMILIES TO FINANCE BAPTISTS'
DEPORTATION?

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Two Baptists who have been living and working in Turkmenistan have
been detained and are believed to be on the brink of deportation, Keston
News Service has learnt. Yevgeny Potolov and Vyacheslav Kalataevsky
are both believed to be Russian citizens. The Turkmen authorities are
reported to have asked the two men's relatives for money to finance their
deportation.

A 27 June statement from local Baptists - passed on to Keston News
Service by the German-based Friedensstimme mission - reported that
Potolov and Kalataevsky were seized the previous day while travelling
from the Caspian port city of Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk) to
the town of Balkanabad (formerly Nebit-Dag) 155 kilometres (95 miles)
to the south-west. `They had their residence permits taken away and their
relatives were asked for money for air-tickets for their deportation,' the
statement added. `The current whereabouts of the two brothers are
unknown.' Local Baptists called on the authorities to free the two and
allow them to return to their families.

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 the report of Potolov and Kalataevsky's detention
independently, reports distributed through the Council of Churches have
a long track record of reliability.

Potolov, who lives in Turkmenbashi, was detained with a fellow Baptist
in the eastern city of Turkmenabad (formerly Chardjou) last February and
severely beaten by officers of Turkmenistan's political police, the KNB
(former KGB) (see KNS 19 February 2001). Despite being told by the
KNB at the time that his deportation was imminent, he was suddenly
freed by the KNB two days later and allowed to return home to his
family.

Six Baptist families active in local congregations of the Council of
Churches are known to have been deported from Turkmenistan in the
past few 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)