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President Vucic and Patriarch Irinej worried about arrest of bishop and priests in Montenegro

The president of Serbia expressed his belief that Bishop Joanikije and other arrested priests (of the Serbian Orthodox Church, SPC) would be released as soon as possible

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Photo Tanjug/Rade Prelic

Today, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian Patriarch Irinej expressed great concern over the arrest of Bishop Joanikije and SPC priests in Montenegro, and their hope that the Serb people will act peacefully and calmly in moments when no reasonable person wants any unrest and conflict.

This was said in a joint statement by President Aleksandar Vucic and Patriarch Irinej, after their telephone conversation.

The president of Serbia expressed his belief that Bishop Joanikije and other arrested priests would be released as soon as possible.

As stated, Vucic gave his full support to Serbian Patriarch Irinej and bishops of the Serbian Church in Montenegro in their efforts to solve all the problems they are facing through dialogue, in a peaceful way, with full respect for the rights and freedoms of SPC believers.

Serbian Patriarch Irinej recalled that the culmination of the hostile attitude of the state of Montenegro towards the Serbian Orthodox Church began with the adoption of the controversial Law on Freedom of Religion, with gross disregard towards SPC's demands for an equal position in relation to all other churches and religious communities and protection of the rights that our Church has enjoyed for centuries.

"The fact that the law was adopted with great protests of our people at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, and that bishops and priests are now being arrested and detained, is just proof that the Montenegrin state is persecuting the Serbian Orthodox Church," the statement reads.

The bishop of Budimlje-Niksic, Joanikije, and several priests of SPC's Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral have been detained for up to 72 hours this morning, after being questioned by the Basic State Prosecutor's Office in Niksic over a religious procession that was held in that city.

Video: Here is what Bishop Joanikije said as he was arrested by the Montenegrin police


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