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Aleksei Beglov, In Search of "Sinless Catacombs": The Church Underground in the USSR/V poiskakh "Bezgreshnykh katakomb": Tserkovnoe podpol'e v SSSR.

Aleksei Beglov, V pooiskakh "Bezgreshnykh katakomb": Tserkovnoe podpol'e v SSSR (In Search of "Sinless Catacombs": The Church Underground in the USSR). 349 pp. Moscow: Izdatel 'skii sorer Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi and Arefa, 2008. ISBN-13 978-5946253031.

In the last two decades, the study of religiosity in the USSR has experienced a predictable boom. The unexpected growth in the influence of religious organizations in post-Soviet public space, plus the scale of previous repression, combined with the relative openness of state archives, have generated hundreds of studies and document collections. Moreover, whereas in the 1990s research focused principally on mass repression against religious organizations in the 1920s-30s, more recently the attention of researchers has been drawn to the period of the 1940s-60s. Accompanying this shift has been another new tendency: whereas in the 1990s research on the Soviet period was clearly divided into confessional histories--indeed, volumes on this topic were issued not only by Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin, the official historian of the ROC, but also by certain Protestant sects--and lay histories (although personal religious convictions were often responsible for the historian's interest in the topic), in the 2000s a growing number of works are intended for a broad lay audience while retaining a confessional perspective. (1) Their appearance on the shelves of Moscow's and Petersburg's "humanities" bookshops has ensured the entry of a clerical perspective on Soviet religiosity into the worldview of readers who did not always suspect that they were being subjected to missionary influence or religiously motivated manipulation. This was all the more true in that the authors of such material are frequently people formally affiliated with lay scholarly organizations.

Among these formally "lay" historical works are those of Ol'ga Vasil'eva, Boris Kolymagin, and Sergei Firsov. (2) The work by Aleksei Beglov reviewed here may be added to this list. It is co-published by the Moscow Patriarchate's publishing house and its subdivision for political journalism, which has its own imprint, Arefa. Unlike the works of many precursors, the book has a judicious foreword, a "seductive" title, and a well-formulated topic; therefore it will inevitably be bought by university libraries, which usually ignore Orthodox historical literature.

Specialists have long looked forward to this book by Beglov, who for more than a decade now has published in the pages ofAlfa i Omega, the church's small-circulation journal, or in little-known short-run collections of documents from the Moscow Orthodox underground. Yet when all is said and done, the monograph proves to be a disappointment.

The basic aim of his book is to provide a description of all illegal church activity, without reference to the specific church groups involved. Thus groups that opposed the Moscow Patriarchate and those that were loyal to it are lumped together. At first the approach seems justified, since most of the references to illegal actions by Orthodox people in the official documents that Beglov uncovered say nothing about these groups' attitudes toward the Moscow Patriarchate. Yet, as we shall see, this approach is problematic.

The book begins with a solid foreword in good scholarly style, which analyzes in detail the genesis of the word "catacomb" as applied to illegal Soviet-era Orthodox activity and demonstrates that the members of the movement used it very little themselves until at least the 1970s (and then only in Leningrad). Beglov rejects the stereotype established in the historiography, to the effect that the "catacomb" church found itself in constant political opposition not only to the secular authorities but also to the official church hierarchy. To describe the groups in question more accurately, Beglov proposes a new term of his own devising: the "church undergound." He also argues for abandoning the "statist" approach traditional to Russian historiography--an exclusive focus on state policy toward religious organizations--in favor of an analysis of the social composition of members of underground groups, their ideology, daily activism, and other dimensions that so interest modern historians, sociologists of religion, and anthropologists. This set of questions is splendid, but the execution leaves something to be desired. Certain subjects of interest to specialists are concealed amid an accumulation of banalities and clerically motivated manipulation of the material.

To begin with, the book's title does not correspond to its content. The church underground in the whole of the USSR is not the subject of the book. The analysis is restricted almost exclusively to phenomena of Orthodox life in Russia. Ukraine--which alone contained 60 percent of all parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the postwar period--and Belorussia are mentioned only in the analysis of statistics on churches opened in the 1940s and in a few other insignificant episodes. The Baltic republics, Transcaucasia, and Moldavia are each mentioned once if at all, despite their active religious life.

The chronological contours of the work are not indicated in the title, which again leads the reader astray. In fact, the book deals with only 20 of the 70 years of Soviet-era church history. Beglov begins his story at the very end of the 1920s, with the beginning of mass collectivization and the general closure of rural churches (ignoring the active church underground in its various forms throughout the 1920s), and ends at the close of the 1940s, when several thousand communities that had survived in underground and semi-underground conditions managed to secure their legalization under the aegis of the Moscow Patriarchate. This period is divided into two sections that are completely unequal in terms of their content and source base: the late 1920s and early 1930s (70 pages) and the 1940s (130 pages). There is also an epilogue (20 pages) devoted to the practical nonexistence of this phenomenon from the 1950s to the 1980s.

In eschewing a systematic description of the church underground, Beglov in practice reduces its activity in the later 1920s and 1930s to three or four small groups that he de facto treats as "typical." First among them is a Moscow community of the 1920s-30s: the illegal Vysoko-Petrovskii Monastery, to which he has devoted scholarly study over the last decade. The second group was associated with Archimandrite (later Metropolitan) Gurii (Egorov): an illegal monastery headed by Gurii in Uzbekistan in the 1930s--40s and two communities under his control in 1920s Petrograd (which are discussed in a much more restricted way). Information on them has come to Beglov mainly from the recollections of one of Gurii's pupils, which he cites extensively--indeed, with disconcerting frequency. (3) He makes no separate study of Gurii's activity, which is unfortunate, since in that case he would have found a fairly wide circle of sources and literature. (4) Finally, as his third example Beglov cites the "Truly Orthodox Christians" (istinno-pravoslavnye khristiane) from Tambov, Riazan', Lipetsk, and Voronezh, who are already well known--at least to specialists--and were described in detail as early as the mid-1960s by the Muscovite religious scholar Aleksandr Klibanov and his group. In this last case, too, Beglov fails to engage in any further research of his own, whether in the field or in archives, but instead cites Soviet specialists of atheism dozens of times.

The other facts he provides in this part of the work are disparate and uninformative, giving the impression that they were found simply by chance. Indeed, they merely decorate the author's strict, if not primitive, scheme, which is formulated toward the end of the first part. In the church underground, we are told, there were "conformists," such as the communities associated with the Vysoko-Petrovskii Monastery and Gurii, who kept secret their status as monks while simultaneously leading a regular church life, taking an active part in Soviet society, above all in professional (intellectual) spheres. But there were also "nonconformists," such as "Truly Orthodox Christian" peasants, who were isolated from society and unwilling to join collective farms and who in the longer run allowed their Orthodoxy to degenerate into sectarianism. If the monks gave the church a group of educated young priests who eventually made the transition to legality, the sectarians only descended even deeper into the underground.

This approach seems to involve the comparison of incomparable things. On the one hand, Beglov investigates the survival strategy of urban intellectuals who recognized Metropolitan Sergii (Stragorodskii) as head of the church. On the other hand, he explores illiterate peasants who considered this same Sergii to be the Antichrist and were unwilling to resettle to the cities from the region of European Russia that had historically been most opposed to central power and that for almost 200 years had produced the most significant movements of Russian sectarianism. A more appropriate method would have been to seek either "Sergian" underground communities in the black-earth region or urban members of the "Truly Orthodox Christians." But for that one would need to possess a significantly broader knowledge of the topic than Beglov demonstrates.

Not counting his own previous works, Beglov gets by, for the whole 70year Soviet period of church history, on no more than 76 published sources, 19 of them published in "his" journal Alfa i Omega, and some 70 studies of the topic by others published over the last two decades. Archival sources on so broad a theme as church life in the 1920s and 1930s are rarely consulted in this chapter, and they come from only two archives of central institutions in Moscow. By all indications, Beglov has likewise failed to use the Internet, which is a pity, since a fair number of sources on 20th-century ecclesiastical history are currently available online. (5)

As noted above, work on Soviet repression of the Orthodox Church and on the activities of the country's Orthodox population from 1917 to the 1930s has been conducted for at least two decades, almost exclusively on the basis of Soviet archival materials. (6) Yet efforts to collect and publish actual testimony on these topics had already begun in the 1970s. (7) At present, the results of that work have been presented in the form of historical monographs by authors ecclesiastical (8) and lay, published in the capitals, the regions, (9) and abroad. (10) The Petersburg historian Mikhail Shkarovskii has already published some ten volumes on these issues using archival material, (11) Of the first 5 documents published by Beglov in his appendix on the church underground from 1936 to 1944 (11 documents in all), 4 had already been published in part elsewhere, including 2 by Shkarovskii.

There is, moreover, a huge number of collections devoted to specific victims of repression--particular archpriests, priests, and active laypeople. (12) Over this period significant work has also been done by diocesan canonization commissions, whose members have direct access to the files of those whom the church is potentially prepared to recognize as modern martyrs. A central figure in these activities is an ecclesiastical historian, Father Superior Damaskin (Orlovskii). (13) The main institution coordinating the collection of memoirs about the repressions is the Department of Modern History of the Russian Orthodox Church at the St. Tikhon Orthodox Humanities University. (14) To this one should add a significant quantity of publications about the repressions in the ecclesiastical press (e.g., in the Syktyvkar newspaper Vera-Eskom and the Samara newspaper Blagovest). (15)

This material on the repressions and their causes is entirely relevant to Beglov's book and indeed would have given greater nuance to the issues he raises. For example, it would have become clear that, apart from the "typical" community of the Vysoko-Petrovskii Monastery, in 1920s and 1930s Moscow there were many large underground and semi-undergound communities based on other principles. Most of these communities, now dubbed "unmentioners" (nepominaiushchie), refused to recognize Metropolitan Sergii as the head of the church. (16) Other significant and well-studied topics that Beglov neglects include the leader of the "unmentioners" in the 1930s, Bishop Afanasii (Sakharov), (17) and his best-known followers, the Moscow "Mechev community"; (18) various "Tikhonite" groups in Kiev (such as the one led by Father Anatolii Zhurakovskii), (19) which were closely connected with Petersburg underground groups, in particular the semi-legal Theological Courses of the 1920s and early 1930s; church activism in Crimea; (20) the new Moscow saint, Matrona; (21) the activity of church activists in the camps and places of exile; and much else besides.

The second part of Beglov's work, devoted to the underground of the 1940s, is on the whole more satisfying in that the author uses a voluminous (if singular) complex of sources--namely, the materials of the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, created in 1943-44. On the basis of reports from the council's regional plenipotentiaries and the correspondence of its leadership, Beglov paints a broad portrait of Orthodox activism in the USSR beyond the control of the state. Yet one is still entitled to ask: what does he bring that is new to this theme in relation to the works of his predecessors, who have been working with the same archive for almost two decades? (22)

In fact, many pages in this section are devoted to things that are already well known: the church's position during the postwar religious revival and the opening of churches in areas under Nazi occupation. Beglov's promise to concentrate on precisely "underground" activity devolves into an excessively detailed description of the process by which formerly semi-underground communities were legalized. But this is something that his predecessors have already described. It is precisely for this reason that Beglov gets by in the early part of the chapter without any archival references, instead endlessly citing a narrow circle of his favorite authors (103-10, 113-16, 123-30).

New material that I have found in Beglov's work includes interesting notes on the Russian Orthodox Church's attempts to develop missionary and anti-sectarian activity in the second half of the 1940s (and to obtain official sanction for this), and a description of the institution of peripatetic diocesan priests, which is characteristic of precisely this period of church history. Beglov is probably the first contemporary historian to locate and work with the minutes of the church's Holy Synod, though apparently only for the period 1947-48 (159-64, 170-76, 228-29). The Moscow Patriarchate's own archive has proved inaccessible--for him as for everyone else--including even ecclesiastical researchers. (23)

Beglov also offers some interesting information on the "Renovationist" Church in the 1940s, which suggests, in contrast to the prevailing view, that some believers continued to consider Renovationist priests to be genuine and legitimate, and that Renovationist parishes not only existed in the underground but also were reborn and legalized under the Nazi occupation and continued to predominate in certain regions (e.g., the North Caucasus) under those circumstances (127-28, 157, 196, 229-30). (24)

Ultimately, Beglov's conscious decision to reject the institutional approach to the study of the "church underground" leads him to conclusions that are predictable for a clerical historian. After 1944, two-thirds of the church underground, as he calculates from statistics of the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, applied for legalization and affiliation with the Moscow Patriarchate; but in the case of the remaining third, repression not only broke the connection between underground communities and the legitimate church hierarchy (bishops and properly ordained priests) but also rendered their religious subculture more primitive and "wild." It was precisely this that prevented their return to the bosom of the official church.

Here, to my mind, Beglov commits a fundamental error or even consciously misleads the reader. The numerous schisms of the 1920s, whose adherents were active until they were crushed by the joint action of state authorities and the church's official hierarchy in the mid-1940s, were in no way the result of the authorities' decision to raise the bar for legalization (thus driving believers otherwise loyal to Soviet power deeper underground step by step) nor of the banning of divine services or the arrests of specific bishops and priests. The origins of the numerous "right-wing" schisms and the "unmentioners" should be sought in a disagreement with the Moscow Patriarchate (the "Sergiites") over a matter of basic principle: the policy of cooperation with the atheistic authorities. For the "left-wing .... schisms" (the Renovationists and the Grigorians), the cause of conflict with the "Tikhonovites" (including the "Sergiites") involved a similar disagreement over principle: namely, the official church's pro-monastic, socially conservative policy. For the various "autonomists" (above all in Ukraine and Belorussia), their separation was dictated primarily by the inclination of the "Tikhonovites" to embrace specifically Muscovite and Russian ecclesiastical traditions while ignoring local traditions and liturgical languages.

Unlike ecclesiastical historians of the previous generation, Beglov agrees with sociologists and historians of religion about the possibility of analyzing "popular Orthodoxy"--as he prefers, "religious culture"--in historical work. As Beglov is a philologist by training, one might expect him to analyze if not the ideology, then at least the texts and language of the various groups in the religious underground. Yet the book makes no attempt to do so, even though it was another philologist, Aleksandr Panchenko, who a decade ago managed to connect Russian sectarian texts to a description of "popular Orthodoxy." (25) Beglov uses Panchenko's works on the "Christ faith" (khristovstvo) and the skoptsy when he seeks to refute the connection between Soviet "sectarianism" and its prevolutionary variant (though he does this unconvincingly). He refuses, however, to consider Panchenko's book on "popular Orthodoxy," not to mention the works of other specialists who have been developing Panchenko's ideas for a decade and a half, using material from the Russian Northwest. (26)

This oversight in turn leads to Beglov's erroneous explanation for the rise of the catacomb subculture. In his opinion, a difference existed in principle between traditional Orthodox culture and the "catacomb" culture, which was allegedly the specific consequence of repression. But Panchenko and his Petersburg colleagues show, on the contrary, that there is no sharp break between "traditional Orthodox culture" and, for example, rural rituals periodically condemned by theologians as survivals of paganism or superstition. These rituals constitute traditional Orthodox culture, which itself can vary significantly from place to place. Thus the fact that Beglov accepts as catacomb subculture only the ritual practices of radical eschatological groups in the black-earth zone--a region with a very particular religious character, one that Beglov describes using only Soviet scholarship from 50 years ago-testifies either to his ignorance of the practices of "popular Orthodoxy" or to a conscious decision to equate all "catacombers" with highly exotic sectarians. If one takes into account Panchenko's conception of "popular Orthodoxy," the Truly Orthodox Christians become more explicable, and fundamentally new horizons open up for the analysis of pilgrimages, holy fools (iurodivye), and "eldership" (starchestvo)--all of which Beglov ignores. But treating these manifestations as "popular Orthodoxy" also undermines Beglov's basic thesis that church life became more primitive and wild in the absence of guidance from a legitimate episcopate (221-27). It is one thing to attempt to prove this thesis using the example of Truly Orthodox Christians in the black-earth region, but it is quite another when one recognizes that "popular Orthodoxy" was omnipresent and existed in parallel with a formal hierarchy--whether it was recognized by the state or Orthodox lay people--and with the veneration of shrines that were regarded as being fully "legitimate" by the episcopate. Therefore, the holding of "uncanonical" divine services or believers' recognition of women as priests is not a function of state repression but rather an ongoing characteristic of religious life. (27)

Yet cultural analysis (as demonstrated by Panchenko and his group, or by the scholars at the Center for the Study of Religions at the Russian State Humanities University in Moscow), has admittedly been adopted more readily by anthropologists than by historians. (28) When it comes to religious life in the 1920s-40s, we still lack proper studies on variations in divine service at the parish level; on the functioning of "holy places"; charismatic figures such as "elders" (startsy) and "holy fools" (iuradivye); rituals such as prayer services, "readings," and processions; and the ideology and textual production of such groups. For all its declared aspiration to investigate religious culture, Beglov's work, unfortunately, proves quite unable to deal fully with the topic. Yet presumably a consideration of "popular Orthodoxy," which was preserved permanently in a semi-legal form throughout the Soviet period, would offer a great deal in explaining both the survival of the Orthodox faith in an atheist state and its "revival," which took quite "unintellectual" forms in the 1990s.

Finally, the end of Beglov's book is an utter failure. It strangely combines an epilogue with an attempt to survey the basic tendencies in underground Orthodoxy over the three decades from the 1950s to the 1980s. This is evidently a failed third chapter of the book. In all probability, Beglov was no longer able to access archival documents or sources of other kinds--memoirs, for example, and the abundant Orthodox samizdat. (29) Moreover, the position of the Moscow Patriarchate becomes more restrictive the closer that studies come to investigating the present, excluding the possibility of inconveniently mentioning certain names.

Beglov therefore proposes that by virtue of social changes--in particular, the disappearance of traditional peasant communities as a result of the consolidation of collective farms in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the sharp reduction in the numbers of monastics and priests--underground Orthodoxy became utterly marginal and is therefore not worthy of consideration. Thus, Beglov concludes, the closure of 40 percent of all the parishes that had been active in 1957 during Khrushchev's "storming of the heavens" did not lead to any surge of "underground Orthodoxy." In reality, of course, this is not true, as attested not only by the conviction of dozens of Truly Orthodox Christians in the early 1960s but also by the documentation of state institutions that show the survival of many communities and their aspirations to renew their registration. (30)

How these communities functioned in that period and where deregistered priests and bishops went are questions requiring further study. Another topic is the participation of Orthodox people in the dissident movement as it gathered strength in the 1960s. The Orthodox element within the movement became a kind of "political representative" of those Orthodox people who functioned on an illegal or unsanctioned basis, engaging in illegal services, the organization of underground circles and groups (for example, those connected to Aleksandr Men', Dmitrii Dudko, and II'ia Shmain); the collection of appeals against the violation of rights; the organization of an underground system of education; illegal economic activity; printing and the distribution of religious literature; the establishment of independent contacts with Russian Orthodoxy abroad, and so on. (31)

At the same time, groups within the Russian Orthodox Church itself, primarily those connected with Archbishop Ermogen (Golubev), were somewhat ahead of the dissident movement when it came to contemplating and engaging in resistance to the authorities and in illegal organizational initiatives. The idea of defending the rights of the church by calling on the authorities to observe their own laws came to Ermogen at the beginning of the 1960s, and until the end of the decade he illegally collected the signatures of his colleagues to strengthen his appeals on various issues to the church hierarchy and relied in his activities on the tacit support of a fairly broad coalition of priests from Moscow and the provinces. He distributed his texts among these people and blessed the authors of a widely known document of 1965, known to us as the letter of the priests Gleb Iakunin and Nikolai Eshliman on state suppression of religious freedom. (32)

There was also grassroots underground Orthodox activity, about which substantial testimony appeared only after the fall of the USSR. Beglov, in denying the Orthodox underground's existence in the 1950s-80s, ignores the memory of church "rebels" (whom he simply fails to mention) as well as numerous underground monastic structures--for example, the system of secret monastic hermitages (belonging to both the Truly Orthodox Christians and to the patriarchate) in Abkhazia, Siberia, Kazakhstan, some regions of central Russia, and Ukraine. He also ignores the even more widespread institution of "secret nuns," who not infrequently lived in small groups (of two or three) in the parishes. (33) Nor does he say anything about the institution of chitalki (women who organized funerals according to the Orthodox rite at the rural level) or about informal spiritual authorities--"elders," both male and female--who even in the 1970s and early 1980s continued to function in an illegal or semi-legal fashion in perhaps every second or third district [raion] of central Russia. (34)

Understandably, the writing of a comprehensive monograph on underground Orthodox religiosity after 1958 is something for the distant future, but all the same specific aspects of the topic have been described in considerable detail by many researchers, and Beglov could have simply referred to their works in his epilogue and left the question there. (35) Instead, he discusses a couple of his intellectual acquaintances, who took holy orders as priests and allowed no criticism of the Moscow Patriarchate. But this is consistent with the main aim of the book, which attempts to prove that without Orthodox intellectuals following faithfully in the changing wake of the Moscow Patriarchate, Orthodoxy in Russia would have perished.

What, in the end, should be the central tasks of the study of the church in the 1920s-40s? Mikhail Shkarovskii, whose works on this subject are essential, used a plethora of archival material to show the depths of the church's disintegration in the 1920s and 1930s. The church found itself fragmented--partly because of state actions and partly because of its own internal problems--into about a dozen organizations. Among these the "Tikhonite" center (those who supported the new patriarch Metropolitan Sergii [Stragorodskii] as the legitimate heir) was not always the largest group. Within each of these dozen or so organizations, the "base" (i.e., the parishes, clergy, and monastics) did not always have a consistent connection to the "leadership," which was primarily a consequence of state policy. Nevertheless, the base and the leadership attempted to coordinate their affairs, to maintain connections with their imprisoned and exiled supporters, and to continue religious activity to the extent possible.

Yet much remains unclear, and the limits of the approach and sources of Shkarovskii and those like him are visible. How were such connections built up in each case? Which people were most influential in the leadership of the church organizations themselves? What plans did they have in case of mass arrests and collapse? Over how many basic organizations did their informal jurisdiction extend? For example, even now there is no work of any real detail on the nature of the Moscow Patriarchate as an institution in the 1930s and early 1940s. Two or three figures who worked beside Metropolitan Sergii are relatively well known, but what were the relationships among them? Who formed the apparatus of this organization? What information reached that apparatus?

These and many similar questions can be answered mainly with the help of new kinds of sources--memoirs, diaries, and interrogation records. (36) Another essential, of course, is a careful collation and summation of materials published at the regional level and in various former republics of the USSR--particularly Ukraine, where publishing on the topic of religion is enjoying a surge and may be compared in scale with Russia's.

Translated by Paul Marsh

Forschungsstelle Osteuropa

Universitat Bremen

Klagenfurter Str. 3

28359 Bremen, Germany

(1) Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin, Istoriia Russkoi tserkvi, 1917-1997 (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Sviato-Preobrazhenskogo Valaamskogo monastyria, 1997).

(2) See O. Iu. Vasil'eva, Russkaia pravoslavnaia tserkov' v politike sovetskogo gosudarstva v 1943-1948 gg. (Moscow: Institut rossiiskoi istorii, 1999); B. E Kolymagin, Krymskaia ekumena: Religioznaia zhizn "poslevoennogo Kryma (St. Petersburg: Aleteiia, 2004); S. I. Firsov, Apostasiia: "Ateist Aleksandr Osipov" i epokha khrushchevskikh gonenii na Russkuiu pravoslavnuiu tserkov" (St. Petersburg: Saris, Derzhava, 2004). A survey of some of them is provided in Nikolai Mitrokhin, "Russkaia pravoslavnaia tserkov' v sovetskii period: Novye raboty tserkovnykh istorikov," Neprikosnavennyi zapas, no. 42 (2005): 123-27 ( nz/2005/42/mi21.html).

(3) In 220 pages of the main text I found no fewer than 20 references to this memoir.

(4) For example, a work on the same subjects by Mikhail Shkarovskii, Aleksandro-Nevskoe bratstvo, 1918-1932 (St. Petersburg: n.p., 2004), an appendix to the journal Pravoslavnyi letopisets Sankt-Peterburga; and a fairly long list of works by church historians on the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in Uzbekistan, including some published in journals of the Tashkent and Central Asian eparchy (see the electronic archive of the almanac Vostok svyshe (, accessed 7 January 2011).

(5) For example, an extensive collection of rare texts on modern church history, including memoirs, can be found on an internet site called Biblioteka Iakova Krotova, one of the oldest bibliographical collections on the Russian Internet (

(6) See the survey by T. G. Leont'eva, "O 'sovetskom' periode istorii russkoi pravoslavnoi tserkvi: Versii postsovetskoi istoriografii," Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 30, 2-3 (2003), 185-208.

(7) See, e.g., the works of Anatolii Krasnov-Levitin, Lev Regel'son, Vladimir Rusak (Stepanov), Dmitrii Pospelovskii, and Petr Palamarchuk. Beglov does not so much as refer to the first two authors.

(8) Including those published in the series Materialypo istorii Tserkvi, published by Izdatel 'stvo Krutitskogo patriarshego podvor'ia in Moscow. A list of the series can be found at www. (accessed 20 January 2010).

(9) For example, Repressivnaia politika sovetskoi vlasti v Belorussii (Minsk: Memorial, 2007). An electronic version of this almanac can be found at www.homoliber.ord/ru/rp/rp0701 .html (accessed 7 January 2011).

(10) A bibliography on the question would include A. N. Allenov, Vlast' i tserkov': Tambovskaia eparkhiia v 1917-1927gg. (Tambov: Iulis, 2005); Iu. V. Geras'kin, Russkaia pravoslavnaia tserkov , veruiushehie, vlast " (konets 30-kh-70-e gody XX veka) (Riazan ': Izdatel'stvo Riazanskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, 2007); M. N. Petrov, Krestpod molotom (Novgorod: Universitet im. Iaroslavlia mudrogo, 2000); Anatolii Slezin, "Za novuiu veru" Gosudarstvennaia politika v otnoshenii religii i politicheskii kontrol' sredi molodezhi RSFSR (1918-1929 gg.) (Moscow: Akademiia este srvoznaniia, 2009); N. V. Shabalin, Russkaia pravoslavnaia tserkov' i sovetskoe gosudarstvo v seredine sorokovykh-piatidesialye gody XX veka: Na materialakh Kirovskoi oblasti (Kirov: n.p., 2004). William B. Husband, "Godless Communism"." Atheism and society in Soviet Russia, 1917-1932 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2000); Jennifer Jean Wynot, Keeping the Faith: Russian Orthodox Monasticism in the Soviet Union, 1917-1939 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004).

(11) A list of his works can be found on the "Bogoslov" website ( persons/302151/index.html, accessed 22 January 2011).

(12) Usually such collections include not only a biography of victims but also reminiscences about them and material from the judicial investigation. See, for example, Vera Koroleva, ed., Sviatitel" Nikolai, mitropolit Alma-Atinskii i Kazakhstanskii (Moscow: Palomnik, 2000); and S liubov'iu k liudiam: Po vospominaniiam o skhiigumene Mitrofane (Miakitine) (Zadonsk: Izdatel'stvo Zadonskogo muzhskogo monastyria, 2005).

(13) By now, Father Superior Damaskin is the author of a seven-volume work that includes 800 biographies or zhitiia: Mucheniki, ispovedniki i podvizhniki blagochestiia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi XX stoletiia (Tver': Bulat, 1992-2002).

(14) On this department, see "Department of Modern History of the Russian Orthodox Church" at (accessed 5 March 2012). A detailed description of the department's database "Novomucheniki, ispovedniki, za Khrista postradavshie v gody gonenii na Russkuiu Pravoslavnuiu v XX" can be found on the department's website ( cgi-bin/code.exe/martyrs1.htm?ans). The database itself is at exe/frames/m/ind.html/charset/oem.ans.

(15) Vera-Eskom is at; Blagovest is at

(16) That is, they did not mention him in their services, which amounted to open insubordination. This was a fairly frequent occurrence with such an oppositionat community. For example, it might mention the head of the church but not the bishop of its diocese, or vice versa, depending on the nature of the conflict in question.

(17) Molitva vsekh vas spaset." Materialy k zhizneopisaniiu sviatitelia Afanasiia, episkopa Kovrovskogo (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo bogoslovskogo instituta, 2000); Sister Sergiia (Ezhikova), Sviatitel" Afanasii (Sakharov), ispovednik i pesnopisets (Moscow: Sviato-Troitskaia Sergieva lavra, 2003).

(18) A. A. Grube, "'Syn moi budet vyshe menia': Zhizn', pastyrskoe sluzhenie i dukhovnoe nasledie sviashchennomuchenika Sergiia Mecheva (1892-1942)," Moskovskii zhurnal, no. 8 (2005): 33-45; Sergei Golubtsov, Splochennye veroi, nadezhdoi, liubov'iu i rodom (Moscow: Martis, 1995); [no author], "Bishop Stefan Nikitin," Moskovskii zhurnal, no. 2 (1996): 4049; G. I. Mogilevtsev, "Otets Sergii Mechev," Zhurnal Moskovskoi patriarkhii, no. 9-10 (1994): 59-61; Sister Iulianiia Sokolova, Zhizneopisanie moskovskogo startsa ottsa Alekseia Mecheva (Moscow: Russkii khronograf, 1999).

(19) Father Anatolii Zhurakovskii, Materialy k zhitiiu, ed. and introduction P. G. Protsenko (Paris: YMCA Press, 1984); Protsenko, ed., Mironositsy v epokhu GULAGa: Sbornik (Nizhnii Novgorod: Izdatel'stvo Bratstva vo imia sviatogo Kniazia Meksandra Nevskogo, 2004); Zhurakovskii, "My dolzhny vse preterpet'radi Khrista ...": Zhizn', podvig i trudy sviashchennika Anatoliia Zhurakovskogo, ed. Protsenkov (Moscow: Pravoslavnyi Sviato-Tikhonovskii gumanitarnyi universitet, 2008).

(20) Archpriest Nikolai Donenko, Nasledniki tsarstva, 2 vols. (Simferopol': Biznes-inform, 2000-4).

(21) On the genesis and analysis of the cult, see Zh. Kormina, "Politicheskie personazhi v sovremennoi agiografii: Kak Matrona Stalina blagoslavliala," Antropologicheskii forum, no. 12 (2010) (, accessed 21 January 2011).

(22) T. Chumachenko, Church and State in Soviet Russia: Russian Orthodoxy from World War II to the Khrushchev Years, ed. and trans. Edward Roslov (London: M. E. Sharpe, 2002); V. Iakunin, Polozhenie i deiatel "host" Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny 1941-1945 gg. (Samara: Izdatel'stvo "Samarskii universitet," 2001); V. N. lakunin, Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov" na okkupirovannykh territoriiakh SSSR v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny 1941-1945gg. (Samara: Samarskii universitet, 2001).

(23) The main archive of the Moscow Patriarchate is even now absolutely closed, not only to outside researchers but also to ecclesiastical scholars in holy orders or those holding official positions in the patriarchate itself. The church press does not discuss even the fact of its existence, let alone publish or refer to its materials. Nor does Beglov mention this in his book. There is a similar situation with the materials of other institutions of the Moscow Patriarchate and most of its geographical subdivisions (the dioceses). A certain exception was represented by the intensive publishing activity of the Ivanovo Diocesan Administration--the work, by the way, of a single person, its archivist, whose numerous works and publications are also ignored by Beglov (see, e.g., A. Fedotov, Ivanovskaia eparkhiia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi v 1918-1998: Vnutritserkovnaia zhizn " i vzaimootnosheniia s gosudarstvom (Ivanovo: n.p., 1999).

(24) The prevailing view holds that the Renovationists were liberal troublemakers who had entered the service of the OGPU-NKVD and acquired temporary power in most dioceses in the 1920s only because of direct pressure from party-state authorities. Supposedly, believers understood this and therefore did not consider Renovationists to be true priests or attend their churches; this circumstance is offered as the principal reason for the extraction of Renovationism by the mid-1940s.

(25) A. A. Panchenko, Narodnoe Pravoslavie (St. Petersburg: Aleteiia, 1998); Panchenko, Khristovshchina i skopchestvo: Fol'klor i traditsionnaia kul'tura russkikh misticheskikh sekt (Moscow: OGI, 2002). Even before Panchenko, the same approach was adopted by Eve Levin, "Dvoeverie and Popular Religion," in Seeking God: The Recovery of Religious Identity in Orthodox Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, ed. Stephen Batalden (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1993), 31-52.

(26) See Zh. V. Kormina, A. A. Panchenko, and S. A. Shtyrkov, eds., Shy Bogoroditsy: Issledovaniia Do narodnoi re[igioznosti (St. Petersburg: Izdatel'stvo Evropeiskogo universiteta, 2006); Kormina, "Ispolkomy i prikhody: Religioznaiia zhizn" Pskovskoi oblasti v pervuiu poslevoennuiu piatiletku," Neprikosnovennyi zapas, no. 3 (2008): 94-107; E. A. Mel'nikova, "Kul 'ty mesmochtimykh sviatykh na territorii severo-zapada Rossii," in Russkaia religioznost': Problemy izucheniia (St. Petersburg: Neva, 2000), 26-33; A. V. Tarabukina, "Fol'Hor i mifologii prikhramovoi sredy," in Sovremennyi gorodskoi fol'klor (Moscow: RGGU, 2003), 301-20; S. A. Shtyrkov, "Sviatye bez zhitii i zabudushchie roditeli: Tserkovnaia kanonizatsiia i narodnaia traditsiia," in Kontsept chuda v slavianskoi i evreiskoi kul'turnoi traditsii, ed. O. V. Belova (Moscow: Tsentr "Sefer," 2001), 130-55.

(27) Beglov speaks of female priests as a strange deviation (203-4, 220). Yet the practice of "popular Orthodoxy" shows that ordinary believers accept it with some equanimity if a woman takes upon herself the duties of a priest or becomes a spiritual leader. See, e.g., a rather typical case from Briansk oblast in the mid-1950s: Nikolai Mitrokhin, "Religioznost' v SSSR v 1954-1965 godakh glazami TsK KPSS," Neprikosnovennyi zapas, no. 5 (2010): 105-8 (http://

(28) See, e.g., K. Russele [Kathy Rousselet] and A. Agadzhanian [Alexander Agadjanian], eds., Religious Practices in Today's Russia/Religioznye praktiki v sovremennoi Rossii (Moscow: Novoe izdatel'stvo, 2006); and I. V. Semenenko-Basin, Sviatost' v russkoi pravoslavnoi kul'ture XX veka: Istoriia personifikatsii (Moscow: RGG U, 2010).

(29) This was intensively published abroad (primarily in the Russian-language Vesmik Russkogo studencheskogo khristianskogo dvizheniia, published in Paris, and the Munich Sobranie dokumentov samizdata) and was archived in several locations in Europe and North America. My estimate is that in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s a minimum of several hundred (possibly more than a thousand) samizdat documents from Russian Orthodox people found their way to the West.

(30) See, for example, "On the Facts of a Gross Infringement of Socialist Legality Toward Believers and Distortion of the Policy of the CPSU and the Soviet State on the Religious Question in Rostov Oblast" (28 April 1965), Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsio-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI) f. 556, op. 15, d. 120. ll. 37-40. Fragments have been published in my "Religioznost' v SSSR v 1954-1965 godakh glazami TsK KPSS," Neprikosnovennyi zapas, no. 5 (2010): 113-14.

(31) A. A. Eremin, Otets Aleksandr Men :" Pastyr" na rubezhe vekov (Moscow: Carte Blanche, 2001); N. N. Sokolova, Tserkov'sela Grebnevo vgodygonenii (Moscow: Softizdat, 2006).

(32) See N. G. Kostenko, G. V. Kuzovkin, and S. M. Lukashevskii, "'Vred, nanesennyi vami nado ispravit', steret', izgladit": K publikatsii 'zaiavleniia' gruppy arkhiereev Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi," in Korni travy." Sbornik statei molodykh istorikov, ed. L. S. Eremina and E. B. Zhemkova (Moscow: Zven'ia, 1996); Nikolai Mitrokhin, Russkaia partiia: Dvizhenie russkikh natsionalistov v SSSR, 1953-1985 (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2003), 491-97; and Sergei Bychkov, "Osvobozhdenie ot illiuzii," in Ispovednik arkhiepiskop Ermogen (Golubev). Zhizn " i podvig (, accessed 22 January 2011).

(33) For a brief survey of these phenomena, see Nikolai Mitrokhin, "Infrastruktura podderzhki pravoslavnoi eskhatologii v sovremennoi RPTs: Istoriia i sovremennost'," in Russkii natsionalizm v politicheskom prostranstve, ed. M. Lariuel" [Marene Laruelle] (Moscow: Franko-rossiiskii tsentr gumanitarnykh i obshchestvennykh nauk, 2007), 200-54; Mitrokhin, "Russkaia pravoslavnaia tserkov" v 1990 godu," Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, no. 1 (2007): 300-49; and "Arkhimandrit Nauru i 'naumovtsy' kak kvintessentsiia sovremennogo starchestva," in Religious Practices in Today's Russia, 126-748.

(34) This phenomenon was frequently noted in the Orthodox press in the 1990s and 2000s. It was cultivated by devotees and explicated by church publicists (see, e.g., Pravoslavnye podvizhnitsy A24 stoletiia: 70 zhizneopisanii. Vospominaniia sovremennikov, iooucheniia, podvigi i chudesa, molitvy (Moscow: Artos-media, 2008); and Father Sergii (Rybko), Se nynche vremia blago priiatno (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo ira. sviatogo Ignatiia Stavropol'skogo, 2002). One of the first scholarly descriptions is Ol'ga Sibireva, "Pravoslavnaia religioznost" v pozdnem SSSR: Primer Shatskogo raiona Riazanskoi oblasti," Neprikosnovennyi zapas, no. 5 (2010), 115-26.

(35) Michael Bordeaux, Patriarchs and Prophets: Persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church Today (New York: Praeger, 1970); Jane Ellis, The Russian Orthodox Church: A Contemporary History (London: Routledge, 1988); Liudmila Alekseeva, Istoriia inakomysliia v SSSR: Noveishii period (Benson, VT: Khronika Press, 1984); Father Mikhail Aksenov-Meerson, Pravoslavie i svoboda: Sbornik statei (Benson, VT: Chalidze Publications, 1986); V. Zelinskii, Prikhodiashchie v tserkov" (Paris: La Presse libre, 1982).

(36) Unlike many researchers interested in similar materials, specialists in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church (predominantly those affiliated with church structures) hardly have limited access to the case files of the clergy and of church activists of the 1920s--40s that are preserved in the archives of the Federal Security Service (FSB). Under normal circumstances, a researcher must obtain the written consent of relatives to gain access to the file of the person who interests him; however, church history and the search for evidence of sainthood and martyrdom are in a privileged position. Therefore, at this moment the evaluation of these archival materials is more urgent for the ROC. See the interesting report on this subject by a leading ecclesiastical historian: Archpriest Georgii Mitrofanov, "Kanonizatsiia novomuchenikov i ispovednikov rossiiskikh v Russ koi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi," 7 November 2010 (
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Date:Mar 22, 2012
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