Christian leader, Narmurad Mominov, was fined on 27 February after police officers raided a family home that he was visiting in Galkynysh, in the Lebap region in eastern Turkmenistan. The house was searched and they were falsely accused of holding a religious meeting.
According to Forum 18, the day after the raid police summoned each of those present and pressured them to write statements that they would renounce their faith and no longer attend religious meetings. Most of them refused to do so and were eventually permitted to leave after authorities threatened them not to attend Christian meetings.
A former church member who signed the statement was later forced to go to the mosque to publicly declare his repentance for having left Islam and say that he had been deceived when he converted to Christianity.
Narmurad Mominov was fined 100 Manats (£19; €27; US$29), which is equivalent to an average two week’s salary for a farmer in the region. Local Christians reported that authorities demand that fines are paid immediately, or they will confiscate personal property to pay them.
Mr Mominov was punished under Article 76, Part 1, of the country’s Administrative Code which prohibits the “violation of the procedure established by law for conducted religious rites and rituals … as well as the production, import, export and distribution of literature and other materials of religious content and objects of religious significance”.
In this predominantly Muslim country, all religious books require an approval stamp from authorities before they can be used.