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Polish priest expelled from Russia

 Another Polish priest has been deported from Russia. The secretary of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Russia, Igor Kowalewski, announced yesterday that Fr Bronislaw Czaplicki, parish priest of Puszkin near Petersburg, has had his permanent stay card confiscated and been ordered to to leave the country in two weeks time. Fr Bronislaw said: "On Friday I learnt that my card would not be prolonged by district Department of Visas and Reports (OWIR) in Petersburg and it means that I have 15 days to abandon my parish." He said he still hopes to return to Russia. "Officially I have not lost the right to come back," he said. Originated from Przasnysz, Fr Bronislaw has been working in Russia for 12 years. Besides running the parish, he was also responsible for the programme of beatification of Polish Catholic martyrs during Soviet times. Fr Bronislaw is the sixth Catholic priest to be deported since from last April. Earlier Russia cancelled visas of Italian priest Stefano Caprio, Polish bishop of Irkuck, Jerzy Mazur, and also did not let in three other priests: Polish Jaroslaw Wisniewski, Edward Mackiewicz and Slovak Stanislav Krajniak. This last dismissal occurs when many were beginning to notice improved relations between Moscow and Vatican. On 13 February the Russian ambassador to the Vatican, Witalij Litwin, said that Russia was ready to accept new priests who were to replace these that had been removed. Relations between Vatican and Moscow authorities and Eastern Orthodox Church deteriorated badly last year after the Pope set up four new bishops in Russia in February 2002.