KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 20.00, 27 January 2002.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

TURKMENISTAN: FREED BAPTIST "UNDER SURVEILLANCE".
Freed religious prisoner Shageldy Atakov has been warned not to
associate with his fellow Baptists and remains under close surveillance by
the country's political police, the KNB (former KGB), Keston News
Service has learnt. "Surveillance has been set up around the Atakovs'
home," a 25 January statement from local Baptists declared. "Each day an
officer makes a visit allegedly to 'wish him well'." Atakov has still not
received a certificate of release from prison.

TURKMENISTAN: FREED BAPTIST "UNDER SURVEILLANCE"

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Freed religious prisoner Shageldy Atakov has been warned not to
associate with his fellow Baptists and remains under close surveillance by
the country's political police, the KNB (former KGB), Keston News
Service has learnt. "Surveillance has been set up around the Atakovs'
home," a 25 January statement from local Baptists declared. "Each day an
officer makes a visit allegedly to 'wish him well', offering that if there are
any problems he should ask for help."

Two KNB officers from Ashgabad visited Atakov at home in the village
of Kaakhka in southern Turkmenistan on 21 January, declared the
statement, passed to Keston by the German-based Friedensstimme
Mission. The officers, Iskander Kurbanov and Kurban (last name
unknown), stayed for about an hour. "They said that he should not meet
with his fellow believers, tried in all possible ways to find out the number
of Baptist believers in Turkmenistan, asked him to let them know about
visits by foreign citizens and enquired about what he would say and how
he would conduct himself with them," local Baptists reported. "Shageldy
replied that he knows himself what to say to whom." The KNB officers
also tried to find out what Atakov's plans were now he has been freed
from prison. He responded that his first priority was his health. "They
offered [Atakov] help with medical treatment and other services.
Shageldy refused point-blank."

Atakov - the most prominent religious prisoner in Turkmenistan - was
freed on 8 January from prison in the Caspian port of Turkmenbashi (see
KNS 10 January 2002). Although he was given his identity documents
soon after his release, he is still awaiting a certificate of release from
prison. "When Shageldy asked why he has still not been given the release
certificate," local Baptists reported in the statement, "one of the KNB
officers responded that the documents are being held up in the prison
where Shageldy had been held until recently." (END)