Baptist prisoner Shageldy Atakov is reported to be in such poor physical condition in the wake of repeated beatings, a spell in the labor camp sick-bay in December with early signs of a heart attack, then a spell in the internal camp prison in January, that he is preparing for death. The German-based Friedensstimme Mission, citing Baptist sources in Turkmenistan, told Keston News Service on February 3 that the amnesty commission that recently visited the labor camp told the authorities "to break him morally or destroy him physically."

Local Baptists believe the authorities of the camp in the town of Seydy in northeastern Turkmenistan where he is being held are now carrying this out. "They have decided to finish him off."

On February 3 and 4 Atakov was allowed a visit from his wife Artygul. During the visit he was reportedly bruised and battered, his kidneys and liver hurt, and he was suffering from jaundice. He could barely walk and frequently lost consciousness.

"He does not expect to live," Friedensstimme reported. "He said, 'Farewell.'"

Atakov had earlier been reported as recovering well from the early symptoms of a heart attack he suffered in December. It is not known why he was sent to the camp prison (known in Russian as a SHIZO) in January.

Friedensstimme reported that the amnesty commission had offered that if he swore the oath of allegiance to the president he would be freed under the amnesty declared by President Saparmurat Niyazov in December "If not, they would destroy him," local Baptists told Friedensstimme.

The mission in Ashgabad of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (of which Turkmenistan is a member) told Keston that it has been following Atakov's case with concern. "Over the past year every ...

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