For Immediate Release
July 10, 2001
(Georgian in PDF format)
Defrocked priest continues campaign of terror in Republic of Georgia
TBILISI, GEORGIA—On Monday, July 9, 2001, defrocked priest Vasili Mkalavishvili and about 15 of his followers disrupted a religious meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the village of Ortacheni, near Gori. Although he cursed and threatened those in attendance, he was thwarted in his efforts to gain entry into the private home where the meeting was taking place. The residents had locked the gate and refused to open it for him.
Three days earlier he had come to the same residence and threatened the owner, declaring that the property would be completely destroyed if the owner allowed Jehovah’s Witnesses to meet in the home.
The disruption of the meeting came on the same day as a radio interview with President Shevardnadze, during which he responded to questions about the government’s reaction to a petition calling on the government to put an end to religiously motivated violence. The petition, circulated by Jehovah’s Witnesses, was signed by more than 130,000 Georgian citizens. The President stated that the law-enforcement agencies were ordered to study the facts presented in the petition. Referring specifically to Vasili Mkalavishvili, Shevardnadze stated that the task of the law-enforcement bodies is to uphold the law and to prevent infringement on human rights.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600