Two Baptists were reportedly detained in the eastern city of Turkmenabad and severely beaten by officers of Turkmenistan's political police before one of them was told to prepare for deportation. According to a statement from local Baptists passed to Keston News Service by the U.S.-based Russian Evangelistic Ministries, Aleksandr Frolov was forced to watch as Yevgeny Potolov was subjected to repeated and sustained beatings during 14 hours of interrogation at Turkmenabad's KNB (formerly KGB) headquarters on February 15. After the beating Potolov was informed that he is to be deported, a common fate for foreign citizens active in religious communities in Turkmenistan.

Baptist sources in Moscow told Keston that Frolov and Potolov were freed on February 17 and are back at home, Potolov in the Caspian port of Turkmenbashi—to which he was sent back by the KNB—and Frolov in Turkmenabad. It remains unknown if the Turkmen authorities will carry through their threat to deport Potolov. The two Baptists belong to a congregation affiliated with the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians/Baptists, a group uniting congregations in many former Soviet republics.

"Yevgeny [Potolov] was savagely beaten, first struck on the head with a stick, then beaten with the stick on his legs, hips and shinbones," local Baptists wrote in a February 17 statement. "One of the agents sat on the brother as he was lying, while the other agent struck the soles of his feet with a stick. This continued for five minutes. After this the brother could not get up. The agents also struck him on the chest with their fists."

Potolov and Frolov were arrested on the street in the evening of February 14 by the police, who searched them thoroughly. "Pointing ...

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