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Russia: Authorities Deny Visa To Third Catholic Priest

Moscow, 28 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A third Catholic priest has been forced to leave Russia after authorities refused to issue him a new visa, the head of the Catholic Church in Russia, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, announced yesterday. Kondrusiewicz also said that President Vladimir Putin failed to explain the reasons behind the expulsions in his reply to a letter from Pope John Paul II. The pope had requested that Putin help one of the barred clergyman, a bishop, return to his diocese in Siberia.

Bishop Jerzy Mazur was turned back at Moscow's airport in April when he returned from a visit to his native Poland. The incident came two weeks after Stefano Caprio, an Italian who had served for more than a decade in Russia, had his visa revoked.

Kondrusiewicz said that a third priest, Stanislav Krajniak, was recently refused a new visa. Krajniak, a Slovak citizen who worked in the city of Yaroslavl, about 240 kilometers northeast of Moscow, left the country before his visa expired yesterday.