APal 12/09 1527 Krishna-Mspi NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) -- A dozen Hare Krishna devotees, mostly

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APal 12/09 1527 Krishna-Mspi NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) -- A dozen Hare Krishna devotees, mostly children, released 25 yellow balloons this week as Mississippi joined a simultaneous worldwide demonstration against the Soviet Union's refusal to allow 25 religious members to leave the communist country. The balloons were released Tuesday across the street from the Natchez post office. The worldwide protest by Hare Krishnas was timed to coincide with the visit of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to the United States. "We're asking for glasnost," said Chandra Sekhara. "Article 52 of the Soviet constitution guarantees religious freedom, and that's what we're asking for. We're doing this for our friends who are in prison for the crime of handing out literature." The 25 devotees were arrested while Yuri Andropov was the Soviet leader. They are being held in prisons, labor camps and psychiatric wards, the Hare Krishnas said. "One girl was told vegetarianism was a type of insanity," Sekhara said, noting that Krishna devotees don't eat meat because they believe animals have souls. The demonstrators danced and chanted in front of posters depicting some of those being held. They released the yellow balloons and some red, white and blue ones. Members of the Natchez Police Department's felony crime unit sat in an unmarked car nearby, armed with a video camcorder. "I'm not interested in the Hare Krishnas," Police Chief Kenneth Fairly said. "I just wanted to document anyone interfering with them and their constitutional right to be there."


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