Truman press-cutting from a Pentecostal criminal case Ukraine



Truman press-cutting from a Pentecostal criminal case Ukraine


This press-cutting with an image of the American President Harry S. Truman was confiscated from an arrested Pentecostal woman in February 1953 in Ukraine. The first image shows Truman receiving an international delegation of journalists. The picture has a title in Russian, “In one of the halls of the White house, the president of the US receives American and international journalists almost every week”. The press-cutting was taken from an unknown, presumably Russian diaspora journal printed in the USA.

The item comes from a 1953 MGB penal case against four Pentecostal believers, all Ukrainian women. The confiscated press-cutting was used as incriminating evidence of their anti-Soviet activities and pro-American propaganda. Reading or possessing an American journal was illegal in the Soviet Union, as the Soviet political censorship banned most foreign media, particularly of diaspora origins.

One of the arrested women was known as a Pentecostal prophetess. As the numerous, mostly fabricated, interrogation reports show, the woman preached the advent of Truman, anointed by the Lord to Ukraine and the coming peace and freedom of the country. As Truman was a Baptist and a religious man, she appears to have genuinely regarded him as the liberator of all believers. She preached that Ukraine would become the Millennial Kingdom where all people would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In 1937, the NKVD had arrested her husband, also a Pentecostal believer. The woman never heard of him again.

The closing indictment contained in the file, additionally states that, during their religious meetings, the arrested women also read Soviet newspapers one of which included the UN Charter. This was also used to incriminate the group on trial as it stated that the women intentionally “perverted the message” of Soviet newspapers.

“Illegal” religious groups and their members were not persecuted expressly for their religious beliefs as, on paper, the Soviet Constitution granted religious freedom. Most of the repressed religious believers were incriminated for “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda” or “counter-revolutionary activity” and penal cases against them are characterised by an extreme politicisation of religious practices. As a KGB report from 1963 states, “We do not fight against believers or religion, but we do fight against using religion by anti-Soviet elements… hostile to the Soviet state”.

This image comes from the State Archive Branch of the Security Services of Ukraine, fond 6, spr. 60259. The file contains records of arrest and transcripts of interrogations of four Pentecostal women on trial, transcripts of interrogations of witnesses, as well as a closing indictment, court records and a final court sentence. Two women were sentenced to 25 years and two others to 10 years in labour camps. Alongside the image reproduced here, the file contains two notebooks with handwritten Pentecostal prophecies and writings that were also used as incriminating physical evidence. Twenty confiscated photographs and twenty one personal letters later destroyed as having no relevance to the case.

For related entries see:


Communism and Christianity--Europe, Eastern
Communism--Europe, Eastern--History--20th century
Secret police (secret service)
Material culture--Religious aspects
Religion and politics--Europe
Christian sects--Soviet Union
Communism--Soviet Union--History--Sources
Evidence fabrication
Soviet Union. Ministerstvo gosudarstvennoĭ bezopasnosti
Trials (Political crimes and offenses)--Soviet Union


Tatiana Vagramenko


Галузевий державний архів Служби безпеки України
ГДА СБУ ф. 6, спр. 60259


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme No . 677355
The research for this entry was 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. 6, spr. 60259


Soviet Union
20th Century

Bibliographic Citation

Tatiana Vagramenko, "Truman press-cutting from a Pentecostal criminal case Ukraine"

Date Created