Photo-collage and network scheme from a secret police internal publication on Russian True Orthodox believers

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Photo-collage and network scheme from a secret police internal publication on Russian True Orthodox believers
Групові кримінальні справи проти віруючих катакомбної Істинно-Православної церкви
Групповые криминальные дела против верующих катакомбной Истинно-Православной церкви


Communism and Christianity
Communism and Christianity--Europe, Eastern
Communism and religion
Communism--Europe--History--20th century
Communism--Europe, Eastern
Communism--Europe, Eastern--History--20th century
Communism--History--20th century
Secret police (secret service)
Religion and politics--Europe
Religion and state--Europe
Religious groups
Material culture--Religious aspects
Religious sects
Christian sects--Soviet Union
Communism and culture--Soviet Union
Communism--Soviet Union
Communism--Soviet Union--History
Communism--Soviet Union--History--Sources
Evidence fabrication
Evidence, criminal
Identification photographs
Monastic and religious life of women
Soviet Union. Obʺedinennoe gosudarstvennoe politicheskoe upravlenie
Trials (Political crimes and offenses) -- Soviet Union


This photo-collage and scheme of a religious network were produced as part of an exemplary collective penal case against members of the catacomb True-Orthodox Church. The photo-collage shows a group of believers put on trial - thirty eight True Orthodox believers headed by Alexii Bui, bishop of the Voronezh diocese (top row, fourth from the left). The network scheme represents the movement as a centralised organisation, uniting religious centres in Leningrad and Moscow with numerous "cells" (as the OGPU called them) in southern regions of Russia (Voronezh, Belgorod, Kursk, etc). It shows repressed communities and those under surveillance, the number of arrested individuals and the names of local leaders.

The indictment was published in 1931 as a top-secret document by the Soviet secret police (OGPU) in Voronezh, Russia. The document was then sent to the Ukrainian OGPU, because numerous communities belonging to the religious network were located in Ukraine. This secret publication was supposed to be a sort of textbook in the OGPU’s campaign against the Buevtsy (as the secret police referred to the followers of Alexii Bui). The exemplary indictment provided a structure, linguistic formulas and incriminating political crimes used against believers that could utilised for further repression of the True Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

Bishop Alexii (whose birth name was Semion Bui) was one of the leaders of the Russian True Orthodox Church. He united under his leadership communities of True Orthodox Christians in about forty districts in southern provinces of Russia and in Ukraine. Alexii Bui was arrested in 1929 as the leader of the “counter-revolutionary ecclesiastical-monarchist organisation” (as the Soviet secret police referred to dissenting Orthodox communities). After several trials he was sentenced to ten years in labour camps and eventually was shot dead by the NKVD in Sandarmokh, Karelia on 3rd November, 1937.

The documents come from the State Archive Branch of the Security Services of Ukraine, fond 13, spr. 390. The file also contains a full list of the convicted persons, the historical outline and the social structure of the True Orthodox Church as perceived by the secret police, and evidence of its politically subversive, counter-revolutionary activities, based on majorly distorted and formulaic statements of arrested individuals and witnesses.

For further entries relating to OGPU's exemplary collective penal cases see:
Photo-collage and network scheme from a secret police internal publication on Russian Orthodox sects;
Collective penal cases against believers of the catacomb True Orthodox Church;
Religious network scheme from a collective penal case against True Orthodox believers.


Tatiana Vagramenko


Галузевий державний архів Служби безпеки України

ГДА СБУ ф. 13, спр.390


Hidden Galleries (ERC project no. 677355)
Funded by Irish Research Council, GOIPD/2017/764




Copyright for these images belongs to the State Archive Branch of the Security Services of Ukraine


Image/ jpg






SBU Archive f. 13, spr. 390


20th Century, Soviet Union
Soviet Union

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Tatiana Vagramenko, “Photo-collage and network scheme from a secret police internal publication on Russian True Orthodox believers,” Hidden Galleries Digital Archive, accessed July 15, 2018,

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