BUDAPEST/MOSCOW (ANS) — There were fresh reports about persecution of Christians throughout the former Soviet Union Monday January 20, including the arrests of Pentecostal leaders and the banning of the world famous Jesus film in several regions.
ICEJ NEWS – 09/05/2001 On his three-day visit to Moscow, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, receiving some encouraging support in the battle against Palestinian terrorism, but with no apparent breakthrough in Israel’s bid to halt Russian arms sales and nuclear transfers to Iran. Sharon’s agenda has included attempts to enlist Russian help in a worldwide campaign to exert pressure on PLO chief Yasser Arafat to stop the intifada violence, to convince Putin to reduce nuclear supplies and know-how to Iran, and to interest Russian businessmen in Israeli opportunities. … Read more
ISTANBUL, April 11 (Compass) — Two Christians were sent to jail yesterday for seven days on charges of “disobeying the police” in the town of Ismailly, 120 miles west of the Azerbaijani capital of Baku.
New legislation awaiting agreement by the Kazakhstan authorities looks set to undermine religious freedom.
The Keston Institute reports that if adopted, the law will require all missionaries to be registered and allow unregistered religious groups to be banned.
Members of the Word of Life Pentecostal Church, human rights activists and some politicians have complained about the failure of the police or prosecutor’s office to take any action so far in the wake of last month’s attack on a Word of Life service in a cinema in the centre of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. The mob raid – the latest in a long series of attacks on minority religious communities dating back to 1999 – was led by Basil Mkalavishvili, a defrocked priest of the Orthodox Church who enjoys de facto immunity from prosecution for his violent raids. (see KNS 26 September 2001) “We have not arrested Mkalavishvili,” the duty police officer at the Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi district police told Keston News Service on 11 January. “Why should we?” His boss, district police chief Togo Gogua, confirmed later in the day that his officers had not arrested anyone in the wake of the latest attack. “I’m not the procurator and I’m not the judge. An investigation is underway,” Gogua declared. “They must be arrested,” the church’s pastor insisted to Keston. “It’s not a question of religious freedom but of hooliganism. Such hooligan gangs should not be allowed to exist.”
Two young men who lead a small Baptist church in the town of Kulsary, the centre of Jiloi district of Kazakhstan’s Atyrau region on the Caspian Sea, have protested against an illegal order by the district prosecutor banning the church.
The authorities of the Niyazov district of the Turkmen capital Ashgabad broke their own seals on the doors of the city’s Baptist church on 2 March and confiscated everything inside. The move was timed on the last working day before nearly a week of public holidays in the country. Keston News Service has been able to find no Turkmen local or national government official prepared to discuss why the contents of the country’s last Baptist church have been carted away in several lorry loads, despite repeated telephone calls.
During the past two weeks, Turkmenistan’s political police have launched another harsh crackdown against its Protestant Christian citizens.
At least four known believers in the capital of Ashgabad have been subjected to repeated beatings, electric shocks, partial suffocation and other forms of torture while under interrogation, prosecution and ongoing harassment.
Turkmen police have expelled the last remaining Russian Baptist missionary in the country, the Keston News Service reported. Authorities ordered the deportation of Vitali Tereshin in March, but the missionary went into hiding to continue his work. He was located in April by Turkmenistan’s political police, the National Security Committee (KNB).
A Pentecostal church in the Kosovo capital was raided by self-proclaimed Islamic militants, according to the Keston News Service. Christians in the Muslim-majority province of Serbia say they have been the targets of attacks since Serbian troops withdrew last June.
Baptists in Turkmenistan fear that national security police are following through with a two-phase plan to deport missionaries and “strangle the remaining Christians in the country,” the Keston News Service reported. Church members claim that officers of the KNB (formerly KGB) issued that threat following a raid on a church in the capital Ashgabad last year.
A Baptist leader who had been held in prison by Turkmenistan’s secret police (KNB) since February 2 was deported from the Central Asian state yesterday.