KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 11.00, 12 April 2001

TURKMENISTAN: PENTECOSTAL PASTOR LOSES APPEAL
AGAINST CHURCH CONFISCATION. The city court in the Turkmen
capital Ashgabad ruled on 4 April that the house used as the city�s
Pentecostal church should be confiscated without compensation, upholding
the 14 March decision of the Kopetdag district court (see KNS 14 March
2001). Pastor Viktor Makrousov, who owns the house, told Keston News
Service from Ashgabat on 12 April that he is preparing an appeal to the
Supreme Court of Turkmenistan, but that the church could be confiscated at
any time.

TURKMENISTAN: PENTECOSTAL PASTOR LOSES APPEAL
AGAINST CHURCH CONFISCATION

by Lorna Howard, Keston News Service

The city court in the Turkmen capital Ashgabad ruled on 4 April that the
house used as the city�s Pentecostal church should be confiscated without
compensation, upholding the 14 March decision of the Kopetdag district
court (see KNS 14 March 2001). Pastor Viktor Makrousov, who owns the
house, told Keston News Service from Ashgabat on 12 April that he is
preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan, but that the
church could be confiscated at any time.

Another source in Ashgabad told Keston on 11 April that the court did not
take into account the defendant�s claim that the previous court hearing had
been conducted with serious violations of proper court procedure. The
prosecutor maintained the previous position � that Makrousov purchased the
house for illegal religious purposes and never intended to live there.

Asked about the legality of religious meetings in private houses, a further
source told Keston by telephone from Ashgabad on 12 April that such
gatherings were not against the law. Yet in court it was claimed that Pastor
Makrousov had repeatedly been warned not to hold �illegal� religious
meetings. Makrousov said that he felt his character as a law-abiding citizen
was being called into question.

The congregation has not been meeting in the church since November,
Pastor Makrousov said, and they would have to celebrate Easter elsewhere.