Friday 4 February 2000
TURKMENISTAN'S PERSECUTION OF BAPTISTS: LONDON
EMBASSY REFUSES TO COMMENT

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

Following news of the forced internal deportation on 3 February of the Baptist
ARTIGUL ATAKOVA and her five children and the arrest on 2 February of
two Baptists from the Ashgabad congregation, MIKHAIL KOZLOV and
ANATOLY BELYAYEV (see KNS 3 February 2000), the Embassy of
Turkmenistan in London promised to comment to Keston News Service about
these developments.

Contacted on 4 February for the promised comment, an embassy official
declared that Ambassador CHARI BABAYEV had instructed him to tell
Keston: `The Embassy has no information and has no comments. I was just
informed by the ambassador to tell you this.' Asked whether Ambassador
Babayev had read the news of the internal deportation and the arrests that
Keston had faxed through the previous day the official declared `Sure'.
However, the official did not know whether the Embassy had passed the
Turkmen Baptists' 2 February statement and Keston's story about the events
back to the Foreign Ministry in Ashgabad. (END)