Issue 10, Articles 25-26, 24 October 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.

DETENTION. Police broke up an Adventist meeting on 21 October and
accused the pastor of holding an illegal religious meeting, violating passport
regulations and drawing children into religious activity. He was detained by the
KNB (former KGB) for three days and released following the intervention of
diplomats in Turkmenistan´┐Żs capital Ashgabad.

CHURCH BOMBING (24 Oct). According to the church spokesman, another
member died in hospital yesterday, bringing the death toll to nine. The Security
Ministry declined to confirm or deny reports that three Islamic students have
been detained and charged in relation to the 1 October bombing in Dushanbe.
Meanwhile, church members continue to meet in new premises.

Tuesday 24 October 2000

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Pastor PAVEL FEDOTOV, the leader of the Adventist church in
Turkmenistan, was freed today (24 October) from the National Security
Committee (KNB) prison in the north eastern town of Turkmenabad (formerly
Charjou) after three days in detention. Shortly after his release Pastor Fedotov
spoke briefly to Keston News Service by telephone from Turkmenabad, saying
only `Everything is OK now.' Other family members confirmed that he and his
wife TATYANA, who had travelled to Turkmenabad today to help seek his
release, intended to return to their home in the capital Ashgabad tomorrow.

Pastor Fedotov had travelled with several Adventists to Turkmenabad on 18
October, where he has responsibility for the small Adventist community which
he visits once a month. Police arrived on 21 October as their Sabbath service
was just beginning, breaking up the service and arresting Fedotov and his
colleagues. The other Adventists were soon freed, but Fedotov was transferred
by the police to the KNB (former KGB). They accused him of holding an
illegal religious meeting (the congregation does not have registration),
violating passport regulations (despite the fact that the town of Turkmenabad is
not in the closed border zone), and drawing children into religious activity
(some children attend the church services). Officers told Fedotov that only two
religions were allowed in Turkmenistan (a reference to the fact that only the
Sunni Muslims and the Russian Orthodox have state registration) and that any
other religious teaching was `propaganda'. One Adventist was allowed to visit
Fedotov in the KNB prison on 23 October.

Following intervention by diplomats based in Ashgabad, Turkmenistan's
KNB chief MUHAMMAD NAZAROV enquired of the Turkmenabad KNB
the reasons for Fedotov's detention and reported back to the diplomats that if it
was discovered that Fedotov was not guilty he would be freed.

When Tatyana Fedotova travelled to Turkmenabad from Ashgabad she took
with her documents proving that the Adventists had tried to register their
congregations in a bid to challenge the accusation that the church was holding
an illegal meeting.

Trying to discover the reason for the arrest of Fedotov and his colleagues,
Keston contacted the main switchboard of the KNB in Ashgabad on 24
October, but was told that the KNB spokesman NIKOLAI PETROV was ill.
Keston was also told that in view of repair work underway on the telephone
cables to Turkmenabad it was unable to give the number of the KNB there.

Fedotov's home church in Ashgabad - which had registration until losing it in
the compulsory re-registration in 1997 that followed the adoption of highly
restrictive amendments to the religion law - was demolished by the authorities
in November 1999. The other Adventist congregations in Turkmenistan
likewise do not have registration. It remains unclear whether Fedotov still faces
any charges over the church service in Turkmenabad. (END)

Tuesday 24 October 2000

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Tajik officials have reported that three Islamic students have been detained and
charged in the wake of the 1 October bombing of the Korean-led Grace Sonmin
church in the centre of the Tajik capital Dushanbe. Security Ministry officials
in Dushanbe have declined to confirm or deny this information to Keston News
Service. However, Keston has learnt that all the church members detained in
the wake of
the bombing have apparently been freed.

About a dozen church members were detained in the immediate aftermath of
the bombing as the authorities appear to have been determined to identify
church members as the culprits, though most were freed after interrogation (see
KNS 17 October 2000). Three church members were held in the week after the
blasts and sources told Keston last week that one was still being held.

Interior Minister KHUMDIN SHARIPOV told the Russian Itar-Tass news
agency on 22 October that three residents of Dushanbe suspected of setting off
the two explosions were in custody. He added that he expected other organisers
of the explosions to be identified this week. The following day
ABDURAKHMAN RUSTAMOV, head of the interior ministry's crime-
fighting unit, described the three Tajiks being held, aged in their thirties, as
`religious fanatics' and said they were also responsible for two other attacks. He
told Agence France Presse that the three - students enrolled in an Islamic
studies institute - have been charged with organising the bombing.

AYFIDDIN ASHUROV of the Security Ministry press centre refused to give
Keston any information about the state of the investigation or to confirm or
deny the arrests. `We don't give out any information by telephone to foreign
journalists, only to our own,' he told Keston from Dushanbe on 24 October. He
referred Keston to the Itar-Tass report, although he was unable to say if the
report was reliable or not. No-one answered the phone on 24 October at the
Interior Ministry press office or the government's Committee for Religious

LYUDMILA KHAN, a translator at the Grace Sonmin church, told Keston
from Dushanbe on 24 October that a further victim had died of her injuries in
hospital the previous day, bringing the death toll to nine. She reported that five
church members were still in hospital. (Other sources continue to report that
eleven people have died.) Khan said that no church members were in custody,
adding several times `everything is fine now'. She declined to discuss the
arrests of the alleged Islamic militants.

Khan confirmed that at least some of the one-off compensation payments of
350,000 Tajik roubles (150 US dollars) promised to the families of victims by
the mayor of Dushanbe MAHMADSAID UBAIDULLOEV have been paid.
`People are in the process of receiving money,' Khan declared. She added that
the church continued to meet, but in new premises - a former school - that the
church had bought before the bombing took place. `The building is only half-
finished, but services are continuing there,' she told Keston. (END)