PODGORICA, Montenegro – Bishop Ioanniky of Budimlyansko-Niksic and seven other priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church were detained yesterday by Montenegrin police for holding a liturgy on the feast of St. Basil of Ostrog, according to the Evening News. Recall that in view of the coronavirus epidemic, a ban on mass gatherings is in force in the country.
Late last night, after a festive service in honor of St. Basil of Ostrog, revered in the Balkans, the Montenegrin police broke into the Parish House, where they presented Vladyka Ioannikiy and seven other priests with summonses to give explanatory testimonies at the Main State Prosecutor’s Office.
At the time of the arrest, the Metropolitan of Montenegro-Primorsky Amfilohiy was also present in the Parish House, but he was not on the list of those who were ordered to be brought to the prosecutor’s office for conversation.
Upon learning that the police were preparing to detain the lord and priests, a crowd began to gather at the Parish House in Niksic, people shouted the slogans “Let’s give the lord back!”, “We won’t give up the shrine!”. The bishop reassured the citizens, urging them to remain calm and enter into conflict with the police.
“Stay calm, do not arrange incidents and do not insult the police. “We do not run from the law and respect the Constitution, but there is no our guilt!” Said Vladyka Ioannikiy.
Vladyka and priests were taken from the Parish House to the state prosecutor’s office. According to eyewitnesses, the police intended to use avtozaki for this. One of the detained priests, Slobodan Jokic, became ill, and he was taken to hospital.
On the night of the arrest of the clergy, a crowd of people gathered at the parish house, and then at the police building in Niksic, chanted “Ustashi (fascists – approx.) ! ” To the police ! Take off your uniform! ” It was possible to reassure citizens only thanks to the intervention of church representatives and the Metropolitan of Montenegro-Primorsky Amphilochius.
According to the press service of the Serbian Orthodox Church, published on the website of the SOC, a measure of restraint in the form of detention for up to 72 hours was applied to Vladyka Ioannikiy and to the priests detained with him after a conversation with the prosecutor.
The priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church are accused of organizing a mass meeting contrary to the current order of the authorities to ban them due to quarantine measures introduced in the country. The TWS, in turn, states that it did not organize a mass gathering, but the church does not have the right to prohibit believers from coming to worship on a large and revered holiday.
On the same night in other cities of Montenegro, in Tivat and Bielo-Pole, three more priests of the SEC were detained, according to “Evening News”.