Pre-war Period: Dynamics of Repressions and their Results


Christian Denominations in Soviet Byelorussia in 1929–1939: Active and Passive Forms of Resistance

The author presents a detailed analysis of the reactions of believers in Belorussia to the official religious policies in the 1930s; their reactions are examined through the lens of the “history of everyday life” approach. The main sources were collections of the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus, fund #4p “Central Committee of the Communist Bolshevik Party of Belorussia, 1917-1941.”

“The City without Churches”: Religiosity in Magnitogorsk in 1930-s

The paper explores religiosity in a newly built Soviet city of Magnitogorsk. The author finds out that in spite of official antireligious policies and the declarative goal to create a “city without churches”, the population continued religious practices. The way religiosity was officially controlled and measured — by the number of churches, visible religious attributes, and open rituals — helped create a relatively calm life for believers with their “invisible” practices.

The Princess Olga from Chuvashia: Imposture as a Religious Practice

The purpose of this paper is to introduce new data on the phenomenon of imposture in Chuvashia in 1920s-1930s. The paper draws upon the evidences form the local NKVD archives. Aleksandra Saratova, who claimed to be Olga, a daughter of the last Russian Tsar Nicolas II, was arrested in Chuvashia; later she and a few other people were executed. The investigation proved her close connections with the movement of True Orthodox Christians — istinnopravoslavnykh khristian — an underground religious network strongly opposed to collectivization and the Soviet power in general.

The Map of Religions for the Failed 1937 Census: a Forgotten Page of Religious Studies in the USSR

The author explores the preparations for the Soviet 1937 census. (The results of this census were famously cancelled by the authorities for reasons of alleged falsification, and people involved were subsequently persecuted). In this census, for the first time in Soviet history, the question was included about the respondents’ religious affiliation. In this connection, a special reference book has been created that covered the full list of religions in the USSR.

“All Power to the Parish!” An Orthodox Revival in 1920-s

Existing scholarship on Russian Orthodoxy during the Soviet era has tended to focus on high politics, the Church (as an institution), and the clergy (especially the hierarchy). It is important, however, to shift the focus to the parish and laity, to whom the Bolsheviks (through the famous decree of 1918) gave full power over the local church and religious life.