NOVEMBER 24, 2020
Brother Taganov Released From Prison After Serving a One-Year Sentence in Turkmenistan
“When I prayed to Jehovah, he helped me to be calm,” said Brother Selim Taganov after being released from prison on October 3, 2020. Selim, still only 19 years old, served a one-year prison term for conscientious objection to military service.
Selim was born in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. As a child, he was a good student and developed a love for music. Selim writes songs, sings, and plays the guitar. His parents, two brothers, and friends describe Selim as kind, gentle, and happy. Prior to Selim’s conviction, his court-appointed lawyer said: “He is a good, decent boy who does not smoke or abuse alcohol and just graduated from high school. Time in prison can only ruin his life.”
Life in prison certainly had its challenges. Yet, Selim explains: “Over the course of imprisonment, my relationship with Jehovah strengthened. I remembered the spiritual truths I learned at home, and I began to understand them more deeply. Recalling scriptures like Isaiah 41:10, 11 also encouraged me.
“When I was in the Temporary Detention Facility awaiting conviction, it was difficult because there was no one to talk to and share my concerns with. But I prayed to Jehovah for help. After that, prisoners and guards who were initially hostile and threatening started to support and even encourage me. All this convinced me that Jehovah was supporting me.”
Selim was also strengthened by local brothers and sisters. “When I was imprisoned, many sent greetings and shared encouraging thoughts,” relates Selim. “I tried to memorize these thoughts, and then I repeated them. It warmed my heart and comforted me.”
According to Turkmen law, Selim could be drafted again. If that happens, Selim knows he could be given a longer prison sentence next time. “After going through this trial with Jehovah’s help, my fear is gone. Jehovah’s support gives me courage and confidence,” says Selim.
We all expect to face challenges in the future. Selim encourages us: “For those who will face similar tests, remember the words of Isaiah 30:15: ‘Your strength will be in keeping calm and showing trust.’”