True Orthodox Church secret police network scheme Ukraine



True Orthodox Church secret police network scheme Ukraine


These schemes of religious network were produced as part of criminal case reviews against believers of the True Orthodox Church. They were published in 1931 as top-secret documents by the Soviet secret police (OGPU) in Moscow. The images are titled as "Scheme of the All-Union Counter-Revolutionary Monarchist Organisation of Churchmen (the 'True Orthodox Church'), liquidated by the Secret Political Department OGPU". The schemes were designed to represent the religious movement as organised hierarchical structure, where "ecclesiastical political centre" in Moscow and "ecclesiastical administrative centre" in Leningrad were connected to religious groups in other towns of Russia, the Caucasian region and Ukraine.

These top-secret internal publications were circulated among other branches of the OGPU, including the one in Kiev, as exemplary collective penal cases – a sort of textbook for the OGPU’s struggle against the so-called “ecclesiastical-monarchist underground”. Clichéd citations from the interrogations and false confessions of arrested believers intended to reveal the political conspiracy disguised behind religious practices. It was a typical strategy of translating dissent religious practices in terms of political insurgency. The main charges against the believers were anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda and counter-revolutionary activities, including inciting the peasants to revolt against collectivisation.

The Russian True Orthodox Church, also known as the Catacomb Church, was formed in the early years of the Soviet Union as a reaction against the collaboration of the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy with the Bolsheviks. After Metropolitan Sergii issued a declaration of loyalty to the Soviet regime in 1927, many Orthodox communities ceased to communicate with the Moscow Patriarchate, renounced the Soviet power and continued their religious life underground. True Orthodox believers were severely persecuted throughout the entire Soviet period. In 1930-1933, the Stalin’s secret police (OGPU) launched the all-Union “liquidation campaign” against the growing Orthodox dissent movements, which they collectively referred to as the “ecclesiastical-monarchist underground”. The True Orthodox Church was the main target. The wave of repression particularly affected religious communities in southern Russian provinces and in Ukraine, where the popular religious dissent was notably influential among the peasantry. Hundreds of priests, monks and ordinary believers were repressed as a result of the campaign.

The documents come from the State Archive Branch of the Security Services of Ukraine, fond 13, spr. 385 (Kiev, Ukraine). These two internal publications also provide OGPU's description of the so-called "ecclesiastical-political centre": its origins, political platform, leadership and its supposed "counter-revolutionary, anti-kolkhozes and insurgent activity". The description of religious criminal evidence are corroborated by standardised and formulaic statements of arrested individuals and witnesses.

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
Religious groups
Religious sects
Christian sects--Soviet Union
Communism and culture--Soviet Union
Communism--Soviet Union--History--Sources
Evidence fabrication
Trials (Political crimes and offenses)--Soviet Union
Soviet Union--Obʺedinennoe gosudarstvennoe politicheskoe upravlenie


Tatiana Vagramenko


Галузевий державний архів Служби безпеки України
ГДА СБУ ф. 13, спр. 385, 387


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. 13, spr. 385


20th Century
Ukraine, Soviet Union