22 September 2008 12:52 Source: B92
PODGORICA -- Police have arrested 65 villagers who blocked the path of Montenegrin Orthodox Church (CPC) clergy and worshippers.
The villagers from Dragovoljiće, near Nikšić, blocked a road that CPC officials and worshippers were taking to the village of Risji Do, where they planned to bless the foundations of a new church that is due to be built.
According to police, the villagers parked their cars in the middle of the road, blocking both the procession and other cars from passing through.
For security reasons and to re-open the road for traffic, the police removed the physical obstacles and arrested 65 people. No one was injured during the incident.
Police confirmed that several cameras had been confiscated, but later returned when it was confirmed that the owners were photo journalists.
The incident was sparked by the CPC’s announcement that it was traveling to Risji Do to bless the foundations of a new monastery, which was accompanied by accusations that the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was assembling paramilitary units in a church in Dragovoljići.
SPC Metropolitan in Montenegro Amfilohije Radović accused the police of unprofessionalism and arrogance during the arrests, claims echoed by some opposition parties as well.
The CPC stated that they were pleased that the police had intervened for the first time to allow the organization to exercise its rights.
The incident comes in the wake of a U.S. State Department report stating that the Montenegrin government generally respected religion freedoms.
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