After his release from the penal colony, Seidkuliev was kept in a deportation center and expelled from the country
Rustam Seidkuliev, One of Jehovah's Witnesses, was Deported to Turkmenistan, Although the Court Allowed Him to Stay in Russia for Another Six MonthsSaratov Region
On September 17, 2023, employees of the Federal Migration Service, contrary to a court decision, deported Rustam Seidkuliev to Turkmenistan. Earlier, at the initiative of the FSB, his Russian citizenship was revoked due to criminal prosecution for his faith.
Seidkuliev was sentenced to two years and four months to penal colony for participating in worship services and talking about Bible topics. In total, Rustam spent a little more than a year and ten months behind bars. After Seidkuliev's release from the colony, additional punishment came into force. It was not associated with imprisonment and allowed him to live with his wife and move freely around Saratov, and to communicate with friends and to work.
Two months later, a decision was made to deport him, and on June 19, the believer was detained and placed in the Temporary Detention Center for Foreign Citizens. The believer's defense appealed against this decision. The Kirov District Court of Saratov allowed Rustam Seidkuliev to be deported only after serving an additional sentence. This gave him the opportunity to stay in Russia with his family for more than six months after his release from the colony. Contrary to the court's decision, the believer was deported ahead of time.
According to Seidkuliev himself, FMS officers tried to expel him from the country twice. The first attempt was on September 15, but the flight was delayed, and the believer was returned to the detention center. "The next day, the staff came and said, 'You have 15 minutes to get ready,'" the believer recalls. "After that, they were taken to Moscow by car, explaining the rush because of the order of the authorities."
Seidkuliev arrived in Ashgabat at 3 a.m. There he was kept at border control for about 12 hours and released after paperwork was completed.
More than 20 years ago, Rustam's stepfather was deported from Turkmenistan because he was one of Jehovah's Witnesses. This is how the Seidkuliev family ended up in Saratov.
Rustam Seidkuliev became the fourth Jehovah's Witness to be deported from the country by the Russian authorities because of his religion since 2017. Previously, this happened to Dennis Christensen, Feliks Makhammadiev and Konstantin Bazhenov.