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    SPECIAL FORCES ARREST FORMER PRIEST IN GEORGIA

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    TBILISI, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - In Georgia, special military units and internal troops arrested Vasiliy Mkalavishvili, a priest who was excommunicated from the Georgian Orthodox Church.

    The operation took place at a church in the Gldan district of Tbilisi where Mr. Mkalavishvili and his supporters had barricaded themselves in. More than 100 policemen participated in the operation

    The police and soldiers stormed the church and Mr. Mkalavishvili's supporters actively resisted them.

    During the operation, about 20 people were wounded, three were taken to the hospital.

    Mr. Mkalavishvili was taken to No. 5 prison of the Law Enforcement Department of the Georgian Ministry of Justice. He was taken to prison and not into custody because he had already been sentenced to three months in prison and had been hiding from prosecution until recently, law enforcement officers said.

    The Georgian police had been searching Mr. Mkalavishvili since mid-2003, after he refused to obey a June 4, 2003 three-month prison sentence from a court in the Vake-Saburtalinski area of Tbilisi. He was charged with deliberate destruction of property.

    A criminal case was opened two years ago after Mr. Mkalavishvili and his supporters burned religious literature from Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists and other non-traditional Georgian religions.

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