KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 11.00, 22 November 2001.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

TURKMENISTAN: FURTHER FALL-OUT FROM PROTESTANT
CHURCH RAID. Following the 15 November raid by police on a
Protestant church meeting in Ashgabad, the Turkmen authorities continue
to take action against those present at the meeting. Yesterday (21
November) those who invited the two Russian pastors to the country and
the owner of the flat where the meeting took place were summoned for
interrogation at the city administration. Sources in Ashgabad told Keston
News Service that each was asked to write a statement about the church's
activity and given a warning about possible confiscation of their homes
and deportation from Ashgabad to other parts of the country. Another
church member has been summoned for interrogation in the morning of
23 November, and it is feared she may be sacked from her job as a music
teacher.

TURKMENISTAN: FURTHER FALL-OUT FROM PROTESTANT
CHURCH RAID

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

As the Turkmen authorities continue to take revenge on those present at
the meeting of the Word of Life Protestant church in the Turkmen capital
Ashgabad raided by the police and political police, the KNB, on 15
November, those who invited the two Russian pastors to the country and
the owner of the flat where the meeting took place were summoned for
interrogation yesterday (21 November). Sources in Ashgabad told Keston
News Service that those summoned to office No. 1 (the religion
department) of the city hyakimlik (administration) were each asked to
write a statement about the church's activity, were warned that if further
meetings take place their homes will be confiscated and that they risk
being deported from Ashgabad to other parts of the country.

The raid on the Word of Life meeting is the biggest single move against
believers in recent months, although raids have been common on
Protestant, Jehovah's Witness and Hare Krishna gatherings in recent
years. In the wake of the 15 November raid, some forty people were
detained, five of them being held overnight. All but one were fined -
many being fined more than two months' average wages � and three
foreign citizens (among them two pastors) were deported to Russia. Four
people have been summoned for further interrogation and further threats
and interrogations seem set to follow (see KNS 19 November 2001).

However, asked why such punitive action had followed a religious
meeting in a private home, the deputy hyakim (governor) of Ashgabad,
Ashir Cherkezov, claimed to Keston on 22 November: "I don't know what
you're talking about." He then put the phone down. The city hyakim,
Berdymurat Berdymukhammedov, was unavailable by telephone on 22
November.

At the city hyakimlik on 21 November, Svetlana Annamukhammedova
and her husband Ishan Annamukhammedov were questioned in the
morning as to how and why they invited Pastor Leonid Malko from
Moscow (who was present when the church was raided and was deported
two days later). Lyudmila Karpenko was questioned in the afternoon as to
why she invited Pastor Vladimir Shamrai and his wife Olga (who were
also present at the meeting and who were deported three days later).
Immediately afterwards, Olga Ryzhkova, the owner of the private flat
where the meeting was held, was also interrogated.

Another church member, Olga Nuryeva, has been summoned for
interrogation in the morning of 23 November. She works as a music
teacher at School No. 16 in Ashgabad, and the school director has also
been summoned. It is feared the interrogation might be the prelude to
Nuryeva's sacking.

Sources in Ashgabad have told Keston that rumours about the raid on the
church and the heavy punishment imposed on all those attending have
spread through the capital. The media, which is under tight government
control, has made no mention of the raids or the aftermath. (END)