KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 20.00, 23 July 2001.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

I. TURKMENISTAN: PREGNANT MOTHER TO BE DEPORTED. Two
Baptist women � one of them heavily pregnant � have been told to leave
Turkmenistan along with their nine children, following their husbands�
deportation. Nadezhda Potolova is expecting her fourth child in August but
Keston News Service has learnt that on 16 July she and Valentina
Kalataevskaya - whose husbands were deported for their religious activity at
the end of June - were told by Ziyad Ishchanov of the KNB (former KGB)
that they must leave by 15 August, or the authorities will send soldiers to
deport them.

II. UZBEKISTAN: CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BAPTIST PASTOR
DROPPED, BUT� Criminal charges brought against Nikolai Shevchenko,
pastor of the Bethany Baptist church in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, have
been dropped `for lack of substance of a crime', the investigator in the
criminal case told Keston News Service on 23 July. Shevchenko had been
accused of leading an `illegal' religious organisation despite the fact that his
church has been seeking registration in vain for five years. He continues to
face charges under the administrative code, however, for �violation of the
law�.

I. TURKMENISTAN: PREGNANT MOTHER TO BE DEPORTED

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Two Baptist women � one of them heavily pregnant � have been told to
leave Turkmenistan along with their nine children, in the wake of their
husbands� deportation from the country. Nadezhda Potolova is expecting her
fourth child in August but Keston News Service has learnt that on 16 July
she and Valentina Kalataevskaya - whose husbands were deported for their
religious activity at the end of June - were told by Ziyad Ishchanov of the
KNB (former KGB) that if they and their children have not left the country
by 15 August, the authorities will send soldiers to load them and their
possessions into vehicles and deport them.

`Ishchanov did not present any written decision about this,' local Baptists
wrote in an 18 July statement passed to Keston by the German-based
Friedensstimme Mission. `He simply said they are being deported for
activity forbidden in Turkmenistan.'

Yevgeny Potolov, who is from Russia, and Vyacheslav Kalataevsky, who is
from Ukraine and a father of seven (one of whom has already left home),
had been living with their families in the Caspian port city of Turkmenbashi
(formerly Krasnovodsk). They were seized on 26 June while travelling from
Turkmenbashi to a funeral in the town of Balkanabad (formerly Nebit-Dag)
155 kilometres (95 miles) to the south-west (see KNS 28 June 2001).

Ishchanov, the officer who arrested them, told them their residence permits
had been cancelled with effect from 21 June and that they would be deported
on 27 June on the orders of the city's khyakim (administrator). They were
subsequently deported across the border to the town of Novy Uzen in
neighbouring Kazakhstan.

On 26 and 27 June, Potolova and Kalataevskaya tried to establish why their
husbands had been detained and ordered deported. A. Orazov, an aide to the
khyakim, told them he knew nothing of the order, the wives reported. The
khyakim was away on both days. Nuri Khaidarov, the duty officer at the
local police station, referred the two women to the deputy head of police, K.
Berdyev, but he told them he had nothing to do with deportation cases and
referred them back to the duty officer.

`Ishchanov sent a message via the police duty officers that we should bring
four million manats [775 US dollars at the official exchange rate, less at the
street rate] for the deportation of our husbands from the country,' Potolova
and Kalataevskaya declared in a 27 June complaint to Turkmenistan's
procurator general Kurbanbibi Atadjanova.

The two families 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 the threat to deport the families of Potolov and Kalataevsky
independently, reports distributed through the Council of Churches have a
long track record of reliability.

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)

II. UZBEKISTAN: CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BAPTIST PASTOR
DROPPED, BUT�

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

The criminal charges brought against Nikolai Shevchenko, pastor of the
Bethany Baptist church in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, have been dropped,
although he still faces charges under the administrative code, the investigator
in the criminal case told Keston News Service on 23 July. Viktoriya
Postavtseva of Tashkent's Mirzo-Ulugbek district department of internal
affairs said the charges under Article 216 of the criminal code (which
punishes `organisation of banned social associations and religious
organisations' and carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment)
were dropped `for lack of substance of a crime'. Shevchenko had been
accused of leading an `illegal' religious organisation despite the fact that his
church has been seeking registration in vain for five years.

Despite the abandonment of the criminal case, Postavtseva stressed that `the
case will be considered under the administrative code not as a crime but as a
violation of the law'. She declined to say which article of the administrative
code Shevchenko was being accused under, saying this was a matter for the
Mirzo-Ulugbek administrative court, and declined to give any further
information on the dropping of the criminal charges. `I have given you all
the information I am able to about the case,' she declared.

Pastor Shevchenko told Keston on 23 July from Tashkent that Postavtseva
had informed him on 19 July that the case was being handed over to the
administrative court. She had indicated to him that he was being charged
under administrative code Articles 240 and 241 (which punish `violation of
legislation on religious organisations' and `violation of the procedure for
teaching religious faith'). She asked him if he had been fined already and
when he responded that he had been fined five months' minimum wages last
year under Article 240, she said he would be fined again this year between
five and ten times the minimum monthly wage. `It is certain it will be a
minimum of ten times the monthly wage, maybe as high as fifty times,'
Shevchenko told Keston.

He said the administrative case is being led by the deputy to the district
prosecutor Bakhtiyor Khaknazarov, but he did not know his name.

The criminal case against Shevchenko was launched in the wake of a raid on
the church by special police forces during the Sunday morning service on 24
June. Nine church members were also due to be sentenced on administrative
charges, but these were dropped in a surprise move on 29 June after the
intervention of the government's Committee for Religious Affairs (see KNS
29 June 2001).

The registration of Shevchenko's church - which is a member of the Baptist
Union - has been blocked by the local mahalla (district administration),
which has the power of veto over the registration of religious organisations
based in its district. A meeting of the Citizens' Council of the mahalla,
attended by 24 people, including 19 council members, voted on 9 January
that `the activity of the Baptist religious organisation Bethany on the
territory of the mahalla is not necessary'.

Shevchenko tried to challenge this ruling in the Economic Court, but the
court refused to take the case, saying it should be heard in a civil court. He
told Keston he would lodge the case at the Mirzo-Ulugbek civil court on 24
July.

Shevchenko expressed concern that unless the church gains registration, a
church service could result in new criminal charges at any time. He stressed
that his church wishes to abide by the law and can see no reason why it has
been denied registration. (END)