Alleged Illegal Border Crossing

By May 3, 2007

Turkmenistan (MNN) — An arrested Baptist leader in Turkmenistan may soon go on trial following his arrest on March 12. Vyacheslav Kalataevsky was born in Turkmenistan but has a Ukrainian passport. He was arrested for alleged illegal border crossing six years ago. Article 214 of their Criminal Code mandates up to two years of imprisonment for such charges.

"Although officials don't mention it, I believe there is a religious motivation to this case," said Kalataevsky's wife, Valentina Kalataevskaya. She has not seen him since his arrest and thinks he is being held in Prison No. 5 in Turkmenbashi.  According to a Froum 18 report, the Prosecutor's office said Kalataevsky has admitted his guilt. 

His wife believes there is a connection between this arrest and past punishment. "They won't take into account that he was expelled across the border into Kazakhstan in 2001 as a punishment for preaching the Gospel," said Kalataevskaya. His arrest was part of a nationwide campaign to expel all foreign leaders within many religious communities.

Kalataevsky is a leading member of the illegal Council of Churches Baptist which refuses to register as a matter of principle. Turkmenistan is currently number 13 on Open Doors' World Watch List for Christian persecution.

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