Confiscated manuscript of Pentecostal prophecy Ukraine

Item

Title

Confiscated manuscript of Pentecostal prophecy Ukraine

Description

This is a manuscript with a Pentecostal prophesy confiscated in 1953 from an arrested Ukrainian woman, who was known as a Pentecostal prophetess. The prophecy is handwritten in a notebook and is 15-page long. It narrates the coming death of Ashur, who will be overthrown from his throne by God and will be shot dead. After his death, all the prisoners will be released and people will live in freedom. The prophecy also stresses a special religious role of Ukraine and Kiev, its capital, that will become a place of great spiritual awakening.

The item comes from the 1953 MGB penal case against four Pentecostal believers, all Ukrainian women. The manuscript with the prophecy was used by the MGB as incriminating physical evidence of their “anti-Soviet propaganda”, including “dissemination of libels against Soviet leaders”. The “Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda”, the infamous article 58 of the Penal Code, was a common criminal offence used to incriminate to religious believers in the Soviet Union. Officially believers could not be persecuted for their religious beliefs, as the Soviet Constitution granted religious freedom on paper. Penal cases against religious believers were fabricated in terms of extreme politicisation of religious practices. A KGB report from 1963 states, “We do not fight against believers or religion, but we do fight against the use of religion by anti-Soviet elements… in hostile to the Soviet state purposes”.

The image of Ashur resembles Stalin, however, in one place of the prophecy Ashur is called Vyshinsky – the minister of foreign affairs in 1949-1953 and one of the main organizers of Stalin’s great terror, who signed thousands of death penalties in the 1930s. On the second image, the following sentences were underlined by an MGB officer, as supposedly having a distinct anti-Soviet meaning: “And liberty [volia] and freedom will follow soon; the days of freedom are approaching. For Ashur will be overthrown. And people will be called. I will call up people from many countries, and they will arrive and will [condemn] Ashur. The end has come, they call Ashur to death, for Ashur will be shot dead. Oh, oh, oh the storm will arrive for there will come the great bloodshed..." The prophecy goes on to recount how all prisoners will be released and how Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, will become the new Jerusalem.

The "wandering prophetess", as she was described by the MGB, led a Pentecostal community in Kiev and travelled throughout Ukraine and as far as Siberia, preaching among religious communities. She was arrested in 1953 along with three other women pentecostal believers and sentenced to 25 years in labour camps.

At this time there were a number of “illegal” religious groups in Soviet Ukraine referred to as the “religious underground”. They were regarded “harmful for the state by the very fact of their existence and the character of their activity”. In 1944, the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists was formed as the only recognised umbrella church body of all branches of Evangelical Christians. The communities that refused to enter the Council, including many Pentecostal groups, were considered criminal. Ukraine was the hotspot of Soviet-era religious persecutions as it was the place of the largest Christian Evangelical communities in the entire Soviet Union. Ukrainian Pentecostalism developed a particular culture of prophets, who were wondering across the wider region, preaching and gathering new communities. By the time of this penal case in 1953, according to the Soviet authorities, there were approximately 200 unregistered Pentecostal communities in Ukraine with over 200 prophets and prophetess.

This manuscript 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 (including the author of the manuscript) were sentenced to 25 years and two others to 10 years in labour camps. Alongside the manuscript reproduced here, the file contains one more notebook with handwritten religious writings and a press-cutting with an image of the American President Harry S. Truman. These confiscated items were also used as incriminating physical evidence against the arrested women. Twenty confiscated photographs and twenty one personal letters of believers were later destroyed as having no relevance to the case.

For related entries see:

Subject

Communism and Christianity--Europe, Eastern
Communism--Europe, Eastern--History--20th century
Secret police (secret service)
Religion and politics--Europe
Christian sects--Soviet Union
Communism--Soviet Union--History--Sources
Confiscations
Diaries in criminal evidence
Evidence, criminal
Monastic and religious life of women
Pentacostalism
Soviet Union. Ministerstvo gosudarstvennoĭ bezopasnosti
Trials (Political crimes and offenses)--Soviet Union
Underground literature--Soviet Union

Creator

Tatiana Vagramenko

Source

Галузевий державний архів Служби безпеки України
ГДА СБУ ф. 6, спр. 60259
https://ssu.gov.ua/

Publisher

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

Date

1953

Rights

Copyright for these images belongs to the State Archive Branch of the Security Services of Ukraine
https://ssu.gov.ua/

Format

Image/jpg
Photo

Language

RU

Type

Image

Identifier

SBU Archive, f. 6, spr. 60259
https://ssu.gov.ua/

Coverage

Ukraine
Soviet Union
20th Century

Bibliographic Citation

Tatiana Vagramenko, "Confiscated manuscript of Pentecostal prophecy Ukraine"

Date Created

2018