ties of Piatidesiatniki. The fanatics got their just rewards for
depriving Soviet people of the joy of creative work, for hurting
their human dignity, for jeering the weak and cheated ones and
robbing them (no wonder that the 'Brother preachers' had good
private residences and motor-cycles).
The Court sentenced the leaders of the sect of Piatidesiatniki,
Kolesnichenko and Kazimirov to five years in prison with sub-
sequent deportation for the same period of time, Chernetskii and
Mahnikov were also given prison terms.
Source: Ogoniok (Little Flame), March 13th 1962
Behind Closed Shutters
'Well, Iasha, recite your assignment,' the 'lady teacher' says.
'... I look for the resurrection of the dead/ the slim boy, nine
years old, said quickly.
'Good boy ... And now, do explain when all this is going to
Fear appears in the boy's blue eyes. Can it really happen that
his grandmother might return from the grave and again get hold
of his ear with her bony fingers?
'The resurrection of the dead will come/ the 'teacher' softly
suggests, 'during the second advent of Christ. And now, children,
let's repeat it all together/
Three dozen voices join in reciting.
On the outside, behind the walls of this house in which the
teaching of God's laws is conducted, a normal life is carried on
on this Sunday.
Young people crowd by the newspaper stand selling Komso-
molets Kubani. In the movie theatre 'Oktabrj' [October], filled
to capacity, the picture 'First Flight to the Stars' is shown. The
BEHIND CLOSED SHUTTERS 61
huge Hall of the Pioneers has been since early in the morning
occupied by the young tillers of the soil.
But neither the regional nor the provincial committees of
popular education, whose task it is to know, direct and head
popular education, knows about the existence of the above-men-
tioned 'school' in the very centre of the Krasnodar Province, in
the very City of Krasnodar.
Strange things happen to the pupils of the Sunday School,
who, during the rest of the week, are pupils of regular public
For example, in the school No. 41, in the second grade lC, a
lesson of singing is under way.
'Little eagle, little eagle, fly above the Sun,' all students sing in
a ringing voice. Only the slim boy of nine does not sing. He sits
there, with his head down, sadly covering his mouth with his little
'Forbidden, forbidden,' answers Iasha Stepaniuga, to all at-
tempts of the teacher to make him sing, and he cries bitterly.
lashtfs sister, Liudas is the only girl in grade six who did not
join the Pioneers.
In school. No. 23, there is a girl, twelve years old, Vali
Andreeva. Recently she took off her Pioneer scarf: 7 believe in
God and God does not approve.3
Viktor Bogomaz is finishing the tenth grade. Although he does
not mind drawing some visual-aid articles for the4 school, he
regards the Bible as the most important visual-aid of them all...
In school No. 39 ... This sad list could be continued. We were
correct counting about thirty pupils of die 'Sunday School'. But,
even if, from the windows of the Committee on popular education
they cannot see every single pupil, in school, pupils of the type of
Iasha Stepaniuga cannot be overlooked. And yet, here is what the
senior girl Pioneer leader of the school No. 23, Tamara Kar-
penko, excitedly tells me how active her Pioneers work. On the
card of her region, there are all kinds of conventional markings:
an axe, a book, a doll... In the house marked by an axe, wood
needed to be chopped, as the inhabitant is an invalid; books are
read to old people; the little girl whom her mother leaves alone,
will be comforted with dolls. All these are good deeds. But
neither Tamara Karpenko, nor the head teacher, Postnov, nor the
lecturer, Mrs. Lugovaia, who finished special courses for anti-
religious work, can tell me in what way they pull out their pupils
from the religious quagmire...
62 THE SOVIET SAINTS
On the other hand, the sectarians—well, they work actively
and firmly stick to 'their' pupils. Naturally, it is not easy to make
people study biblical legends at the time when Gargarin orbits in
the space. Not everybody is ready to bite even the bait in the
form of free soup generously offered at the prayer meetings. First
to fall in are usually the children of the sectarians, who yield to
the will of the parents. It is terrifying to think in whose dirty
paws is the fate of such 'pupils' : the 'School' was set up on the
initiative of the hardened sectarians Dubovchenko and Kirillov,
who were sentenced in the past for anti-Soviet activities, and of
one Kobzar, who served his term for robbery.
What is the future of Iasha Stepaniuga? Will he become the
When they found out at the worsted clotli factory about the
dark deeds of Eudokiia, the workers got angry. Brydnia was told
to discontinue her infamous occupation.
lFor the present, I'll discontinue/ she agreed gloomily, 'but in
the future, I'll do what my conscience tells me to.'
This conscience, directed by the experienced hand of such
people as Dubovchenko and Kobzar, suggested to her other forms
of sectarian propaganda: to visit homes and fill childish heads
with religious rubbish.
When I asked, at the combine factory, in what brigade (group)
Eudokiia Brydnia was working, I was told first one, then another
'She does not stay long with any brigade,' the Party organizer
Iakubova explained. 'Although she is not a bad worker, each
brigade tries to get rid of her. After all, all of them are struggling
to get the distinction of a brigade of Communist labour. Now,
can a member of such a brigade be weaving the material for
The shift ended. The crowd moved towards the exit. People
walked in lively conversation. In the distance, separated from
others, hurriedly, not even glancing aside, a lonely figure walked
in the mud. This was Brydnia...
It is your fault, your neglect, comrades of the 'Kamvolnii'
factory combine, that Eudokiia, being twenty-two years of age,
turned into a renegade.
Do you remember how she entered school as a little girl? She
progressed like others, and even joined the Komsomol, like
others. Then, talk like this started :
BEHIND CLOSED SHUTTERS 63
'I am going to marry only the man whom the presbyter chooses
'But you are so pretty, and the groom might be squint-eyed or
freckled [pock-marked],' her girl-friends teased her.
'Apparently such would be God's will.'
People merely laughed and shook their heads: what strange
ideas this girl has ...
Yes, now matters are too far advanced and it will be much
more difficult to make Brydnia return to the right way.
Now about Arkhip Lazarev. In order to learn his story, I went
to Spokoinaia Stanitsa, the centre of the Spokoinenskii Region. I
visited the Regional Party Committee.
'How could it happen that, so close to you, at Stanitsa
Nadezhnaia, Arkhip Lazarev has been sitting in chains?' I asked
the Secretary of the Regional Committee, Anna Avraanivba
'Maybe, he had been sitting there for ten years,' the secretary
replied wryly. 'But we learned about it only a month ago when we
read about it in the local paper.'
About fifteen kilometres away from Spokoinaia, there is
Nadezhnaia Stanica. By the woods, on the steep bank of the river,
there stands the house in which the Lazarevs live. It stands mere
away from all the other houses, somehow resembling its owner
who, during the war was a German policeman and, in peace-time,
remained an individual peasant. One window in the house is
tightly closed by shutters. A narrow path leads to the abode of die
leader of the sectarians of Nadezhnaia.
Our approach was met with the mad barking of a dog;
strangers were approaching. The owner of the house met us with
distrust. Hesitantly, he asked us to come in.
The house was divided into two parts. In one of them, a kind
of private church was built: an iconostasis [a partition on which
icons are placed], burning sanctuary lamps, Communion bread
and a self-made, miniature 'God's grave*. An icon of the Mother
of God took the central place. I recognized it right away after the
description I saw in the 'Atheist's Guide' : it was the same icon
on which, at the order of the Tsarist satrap, Arakcheyev, was
painted his love, Minkina, as a model. Now, people come to pray
to this icon.
It was half-dark behind the wooden partition. The window was
tightly closed. It was here, on a wooden floor covered with torn
64 THE SOVIET SAINTS
rags, that 'God's servant', Arkhip, has passed ten years of his life,
chained by his leg.
Arkhip was only seven years old, when his mother and his older
sister—both religious fanatics—started to perform religious rites
with the child. The boy was scared, cried, asked to be left alone.
But they continued. They even started to 'treat' him for illness.
They would put a basin filled with water on his head and pour
melted wax into the water with prayers accompanying the pro-
cedure. Naturally, such 'procedures' caused nervous disorders in
the boy. He would escape to the woods. They would catch him
and continue to 'cure' him. He started crying in his sleep and
getting scared of other people. And the Lazarevs decided : 'Since
his illness is pleasing to God, it shows that his is God's choice.' A
very simple and cruel approach: disabled people, and, especially
those with nervous disorders, enjoy special respect on the part of
'true, orthodox Christians' to which the Lazarevs claim to belong.
In order to make 'God's choice' submit to God's will without
opposing it, he was put in chains. After that, he first forgot how
to read and write, then ceased to speak and understand.
He sits in front of us, a lost man of twenty-six. The expression
of his face is dull and thoughtless; his dimmed eyes fixed on one
spot. He could, never play with the village boys of his age. He
would never enter the agricultural institute, the way Iuri Khar-
chenko did; he would never become a physician, like Aleksie
Samonenko, or return to his native sovkhoz [state-farm] as an
engineer, like Dmitrii Bygolevskii...
'Yet die case of Arkhip is an exceptional one,' Comrade
Kurgan assures me. 'And, in general, we had, during the past
year, 2,106 lectures given and this, mind you, with only 2,000
planned. Of this number, sixty-five were anti-religious ones.?
Apparently, the leaders of Spokoinenskii Region are satisfied in
their minds. But, do people like the parents of Arkhip Lazarev, or
Bondarenko, or Malashein, or other members of the sect attend
such lectures? You, Comrade Kurgan, say that 'in reality there is
no sect, just a few old people praying quietly.' Quietly, indeed?
And do you know what propaganda and agitation these 'quiet'
people are engaged in? How they distribute anti-Soviet litera-
ture? How they threatened one of the local residents, Mrs. L...
demanding that she sacrifices to God her daughter Raia? It is
true, IVlrs. L's daughter is not in danger any more. But it was not
you, comrades, who helped her : Raia left, or rather escaped from
the settlement, and lives in a city now.
BEHIND CLOSED SHUTTERS 65
Now, finally, a criminal case against the Lazarevs is in pro-
gress; they eventually saw it as wise to spread the version that
their son was mentally retarded and they started healing him.
After ten years, the unhappy boy was unchained. They want to
take him to the hospital. But will they? This is not yet known
because, you see, a parental agreement is required for such action.
And the parents do not agree.
What to do, when the obscurantists ruin human life 'given by
God'. Are we sure that little Iasha Stepaniuga will not share
Arkhip Lazarev's fate? These were my uneasy thoughts when I
was leaving the settlement.
At Armavira I got the answer to my question. Two sisters were
admitted to the local children's home : Nina and Luda Berdarev.
They were taken away from their mother on the basis of a Court
decision: the woman fanatic had forbidden her children to attend
school. In vain the headmaster and the teachers tried to make
the sectarian understand her duties. Then, the Village Council of
Hin turned to the Court. The Court decided that the defendant
performed her powers with detriment to the children, and de-
prived her of her parental rights.
The sisters came to the children's home without a smile on
their tense faces. They prayed, crossed themselves, whispered.
The girls were not bothered by special talks or inquiries. Life in
the children's home took its normal course. The children studied,
worked in shops, went for excursions, watched television, attended
Pioneer meetings. The house on the Lermontovskaia Street was
visited by old, moustached trustees or by young girls from the rail
plant. Now, Nina, for the first time in her life, goes to a movie
theatre and does not cover her eyes, and watches 'The Cheated
One'. Then she tells her instructor : 'I liked it very much.'
/ noticed how happy Nina is now, how eagerly she reads and
how gladly she studies. Luda has not yet recovered completely,
but, surely, she will become like her sister. And again, I thought
of little Iasha Stepaniuga. I visited him at home. On the gate,
there was a sign : 'Vicious dog in the yard'. I hope the readers
will forgive me for the comparison : Iasha's mother looked to me
more vicious. Lidia Ivanovna immediately attacked me :
'Why do I not let them go to the movies? But this is a devil's
pleasure, that's why. I destroyed the radio receiver, too. I am
myself illiterate and, as you see, I live.' With pleasure, she looks
at her good, new house. 'My husband and I are believing people;
therefore, our children will not wear Pioneer scarfs .. /
66THE SOVIET SAINTS
The married couple Stepaniuga—are staunch sectarians. They
have seven children—seven small Soviet citizens who are forced
to live behind tightly closed shutters, separating them from the
world. The bad will of their obscurantist parents may even
deprive them of their right to learning which has become binding
law for all children of our country. Would it not be better for the
children of such people as the Stepaniugas to live in big houses
with large windows through which the sun and the sky and the
green grass could be seen, perhaps in a house like tie one in
which Nina and Luda now live?
Special correspondent of Ogoniok
Source: Kazakhstanskaia Pravda, January 31st 1962
End to the Obscurantists
From the Courtroom:
The camera men of the Television studio of Karaganda suc-
ceeded in photographing a few unusual scenes: In a small room,
people are kneeling and, in. a singing voice, shout incompre-
hensible invocations. Soon, they get into ecstasy, start shaking
faster and faster until, finally, some of them faint. This is the
praying exercise of the 'Christians of the Evangelic Faith', or, as
they are called, the Piatidesiatniki.
During the past years, this illegal sect spread in Karaganda and
got under its influence about two hundred people. The sectarians
started interfering in family lives of the working people and
recruiting new members everywhere it was possible.
The disease spread. Executive Committees of regional Coun-
cils and the workers' deputies and other social organizations re-
ceived dozens of petitions from citizens requesting that they be
protected against the infringement by the sectarians and that the
activities of the obscurantists be curbed. As a result, a criminal
trial got under way against the leaders of the sect.
END TO THE OBSCURANTISTS 67
For five days, a show trial against the 'pastors', the human soul
hunters, was in progress in the Karaganda Cultural Palace of the
miners. It aroused enormous interest in the working people of the
Who are these sect leaders, so highly skilled in invading human
souls? Here is the 'presbyter' of the community, Afanazii Drob-
kov, a skinny man with a thin, Jesuit-type mouth, a sharp nose
and an oily voice. He has a special secondary education. He used
to be a teacher and taught Physics and Mathematics during the
war, he was taken prisoner and recruited by the German Intelli-
gence. 'For diligence', he was given the rank of a private first
class in Hitler's Army, and awarded a bronze medal. For this
treason, he was sentenced to ten years in prison. After serving his
time, he settled in Karaganda and undertook to organize the sect
of the Piatidesiatniki, in which he took the post of the Head.
And here is Geronim Domanskii, a sinister figure of a fanatic,
author of numerous pslams and sermons which are characterized
by his hatred of Soviet people. Some time ago, he was sentenced
for anti-Soviet activity. He served his time and came to Kara-
ganda where he became a deacon of the community.
Wriggling and playing the fool, the third defendant, 'regent'
Fedor Borovikov, gives his testimony. Twelve years ago, he was
sentenced; he then came to Karaganda and became an active
member of the sect.
Skilfully managing the believers, these leaders subjected the
whole sect to their will. They taught that 'God should take first
place in our thoughts, feelings and deeds'1. They tried to convince
the believers that everything that existed outside of their com-
munity, was 'sinful'. One should, they insisted, stay away from
worldly vanity. The earthly life is only a temporary existence—a
true life only will come after death, in heaven.
Everything in the sectarians is directed towards the destroying
in the human being the faith in his own powers, towards a pessi-
mistic conception of reality and, eventually, towards turning man
into a weak-willed slave.
We must not forget that the sect of the Pentecostals came into
existence in 1907 in the U.S.A. The introduction of this sect in
our country was the result of the work of American preachers
who, some forty years ago, started their religious offensive by
advancing the slogan: 'America and Russia for Christ.' In re-
spect to all Soviet matters, the sect took a clearly hostile position.
It is evident, that the residents of Karaganda were not inclined to
68 THE SOVIET SAINTS
tolerate the fact that the sect leaders educate the believers in
hatred towards the Soviet system and advance religion against the
bright ideas of our society.
Thirty-two witnesses appeared before the Court. Many of
them angrily told the Court about the lies and hypocrisy of die
sectarian preachers, of the fact that they entangled honest Soviet
people by dominating their souls. It was difficult to listen without
indignation to the testimony of the worker of mine No. 38,
Timofel Ursu, the locksmith of 'T.E.T.s', Michael Schchegol,
whose families were destroyed by the sectarianssof the retired
worker F. F. Chupretova, of the worker of mine No. 37, Mrs.
Elizaveta Novikova, of the manager of mine No. 383 Michael
Grebenshchikov, the leader Veniamin Shmunk and others. All of
them violently accused the sectarians.
But there v)ere also witnesses, who, raising their eyes towards
the ceiling, invoked God, incomprehensibly mumbled something
about conscience, about brother and sister in faith. These were
the members of the sect. They surprisingly resembled each other
—pale, tired faces.
Aleksei Kirko, a dirty-looking man not young any more. He is
an ardent fanatic. 'One finds what one seeks,' Kirko maintains. It
is easy to find what Kirko is seeking in life. It was not an accident
that such reactionary magazines as 'The Peace-maker Will Come',
published still in the 'lordly' Poland [pre-war Poland] and full
of libellous attacks against the young Soviet Republic, were kept
in his home.
And here, again, is Ivan Run, plasterer in mine No. 70. He
doesn't know even who Iuri Gagarin is : he is not familiar with
the achievements of Soviet science and technology.
The appearance of Mrs. Neonila Krechmarovskaia makes a
distressing impression. She came to Karaganda only one year ago
and immediately fell into the dragnet of the sectarians. Maria
Pliska, who met her, suggested that she stayed in her apartment
without payment. There the meetings of the sectarians took place
often. Krechmarovskaia started taking part in these meetings.
Now she is a downtrodden, poisoned woman.
Those present at the trial were virtually shocked by the evi-
dence given in testimony by the headmaster of the school No. 23
[Mrs.] E. G. Milevskaia. She told the story of the hard life of
the children of sectarians who attend her school. One is Liuda
Domanskaia. Like other children, she wears a Pioneer scarf
around her neck. Liuda is an exemplary student, jokes with her
END TO THE OBSCURANTISTS 69
girl-friends, laughs, plays during recess. But, when the end of the
school hours approach a shadow comes over her face. The girl
becomes uncommunicative, nervous, angry. When the last bell
rings, Liuda takes down her scarf and stoops and steals out of the
room. Her other life begins, a forced, gloomy life of the daughter
of a sectarian.
During the trial, many examples of suffering were described,
by people who believed that 'God's grace3 comes as a result of
praying. Such 'grace' came also down on Anna Bavalennaia. The
sectarians used the occasion of her husband's illness and advised
her to seek solace in prayers. During one of the sermons, Anna
heard that even God's will can be tested ... and she made up her
mind. When, after the prayers, she came out on the street, hold-
ing her six-year-old son in her arms, she threw herself on the
ground in front of a passing truck. Fortunately, the driver noticed
her in time and stopped. Anna was not hurt.
The preachers triumphed :
'You see,' they said, 'God did not let you die. His will was
Then Anna threw herself in front of a train. Her son was hurt
and she passed away in terrible pain.
Also the plight of Michael Shchegol was described at the trial
While he was in service, the sectarians entangled his wife in their
nets, and moved her from the Crimea to Karaganda. There
Michael found her, completely changed.
The list of the crimes of the sectarians is a long one. The
Community Prosecutor," lecturer in Philosophy at the techno-
logical institute, [Mrs.] A. G. Arkhipova, talked about them
with indignation. Doctor of Sciences, an expert in Forensic
Medicine, Professor M. A. Sviadoshch, convincingly proved the
harm done by these praying sessions. The concluding statement
of the Prosecutor, P. G. Grachkov, sounded angry.
The trial clearly showed the malicious nature of the sectarian
teaching. In front of the spectators scandalous facts of scoffing
young people and children were presented in a long row.
It was proven in the course of the trial that Drobkov, Doman-
skii and Borovikov violated Soviet laws by organizing an illegal
sect. They conducted secret meetings of the sectarians. All these
acts are punishable under Section 200 of the Criminal Code of
the Kazakh S.S.R. So, those attending the trial met the just
sentence with approval.
The Judges of the District Court sentenced A. N. Drobkov and