Turkmenistan Church Tense After Police Raid

Back in April, 10 officials from various Turmenistan government agencies raided a Bible study being held in a private home.

“Some ten officials from the local Religious Affairs Department, the police, secret police, Justice Ministry and Tax Ministry” raided the Bible class from the Greater Grace Protestant church on April 11, said Forum 18, a Norway-based human rights group.

Murad Aksakov of the local administration reportedly defended the raid saying they wanted to find out how many people attended the classes, who those people were, and “whether everything was in order” with the church’s documents. “We went there as guests, and I don’t see anything wrong with that since we have the right to check up on religious organizations,” he said in published remarks.

Pastor Vladimir Tolmachev reportedly said he was warned that the church was not allowed to teach its own members without permission from the government’s Religious Affairs Committee. Officials allegedly told Tolmachev he would receive an official warning.

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