State Archive Branch of the Security Services of Ukraine

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  • Agent operation "Zavet" against Jehovah's Witnesses, Ukraine 1953-1955

    This photograph was enclosed in a KGB surveillance file from 1952-1955 on Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Rivno region, western Ukraine. The image pictures a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Rivno region. It was enclosed in an envelope along with 6 other confiscated or intercepted photographs. Each depicted person was marked with a number and on the reverse side a secret police officer wrote their names, date of birth, information on their origin and place of residence, as well as their role within the Jehovah’s Witness organization, such as: “ordinary member of the underground,” “active Jehov
  • Resistance by Image: Arrest Photographs of True Orthodox believers, Ukraine 1952

    These arrest photographs come from a 1952 secret police penal file on a group of 23 believers who were arrested in the Kiev region of Ukraine. The file contains two versions of their arrest photographs taken by the MGB officers. As the photos were being taken, the believers intentionally closed their eyes, turned their heads away, or sang while the officers tried to restrain them. Their gloved hands are clearly visible in the images. Police officers later tried to correct these “tainted” photographs by removing the evidence of their violent intervention from the prints, which one can see in th
  • KGB covert operation against Jehovah's Witnesses, Ukraine 1951-1954

    This network scheme of the Jehovah’s Witness organization comes from a four-volume top-secret file titled LKB, Legendirovannoe Kraevoe Biuro (Regional Bureau Covert Operation). It was produced by the Ukrainian secret police in 1953 and shows Jehovah’s Witness districts and circuits located in the Soviet Union with the organization’s country committee (called by that time the Regional Bureau) as the governing body of Soviet Jehovah’s Witnesses. The scheme shows the connections of Soviet-based groups of believers with the Jehovah’s Witness organization abroad: the East-European Bureau in Poland,
  • Jehovah's Witness Coded Reports from Ukraine

    Being surveilled and under constant risk of arrest, many clandestine religious communities developed their own coded language to communicate with each other and with their religious centres. This enabled them to avoid the disclosure of sensitive information in case of arrest and confiscation. Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the groups who developed their own coded system of communication, which they used in their missionary materials and finance reports and tallies. The secret police, in turn, made great efforts to intercept clandestine communication channels and to decipher coded messages.
  • External surveillance photographs of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ukraine

    These photographs come from a KGB surveillance file on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ukraine, 1955-1956. The photographs, which were taken with a hidden camera, capture the meeting of a KGB agent with a group of Witnesses in the town of Morshyn, western Ukraine. The agent was a Witness minister recruited by the KGB as an informer. He was appointed by the secret police to meet with members of the Jehovah’s Witness regional committee in Ukraine in order to gain their confidence and to intercept the communication channels of Ukrainian Jehovah’s Witnesses with their headquarters abroad. During one of the
  • Seventh-day Adventist community photograph Ukraine

    This photograph was confiscated in 1948 by the Soviet secret police from a Romanian peasant repressed as a follower of the Reformed Adventist Church in Chernivtsi oblast (former Northern Bukovina), Ukraine. The photograph was included in his criminal file. It pictures a community of Romanian Adventists who are festively dressed with most of them holding Bibles as a symbol of their faith. Apart from this photograph the police also confiscated a notebook with religious songs handwritten in Romanian language. According to the file, Vasilii Litvan was a poor, illiterate Romanian peasant who lived
  • Seventh Day Adventist confiscated material Ukraine

    The images come from a 2-volume criminal case against fourteen followers of the Reformed Adventist movement in the provincial town of Bila Tserkva, Ukraine dating from 1952. All of the arrested believers were poor, barely literate Ukrainian peasants who practiced their faith privately in their homes. All of them were found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and refusal of military service and were deported to the Gulag. The photographs show religious manuscripts, books and photographs confiscated during their arrest. The images of the confiscated items were included in the file as evidence of the
  • Jehovah's Witnesses bunker printing press Ukraine

    These images were included in a 14-volume criminal file against seven Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) leaders from western Ukraine (former Drohobych and Stanislav region), 1955-1956. The photographs were produced during a police raid of an underground bunker printing press operated by the Witnesses in a rural location. The photographs were used as incriminating evidence of their clandestine illegal activities. The first image shows a rural private house in Smodne village under which the bunker was constructed. The place was also used as a safe house where several members of the JW organisation were
  • Secret police photographs of Ioannite community Ukraine

    The photographs come from a 1959 KGB criminal case against three members of an Ioannite community in Cherkasy region, Ukraine. The images were designed as a photo album pasted into the secret police file. They portray father Mitrofan, the priest of the community in his house, which had been turned into a clandestine chapel. The first photo collage shows father Mitrofan dressed in Orthodox vestments against a background of icons, performing a religious service and talking to women, seemingly his followers. The second photo collage records the ritual washing of feet, also performed in father Mit
  • KGB Photo Album Ukrainian Greek Catholic Leaders

    These photographs come from a KGB internal publication which is in the form of a photo album. It features arrested Ukrainian Greek Catholics, Josyf Slipyi, Ilia Blavatsky and Vasyl Kavatsiv and was published in Krasnoyarsk in 1958. The photographs of the arrested persons open the photo album (Image 1). The image of the metropolitan Josyf Slipyi, the head the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, is placed in the centre. Vasyl Kavatsiv (left), an underground priest and a secret monk, is defined under his photo as a nationalist, closely linked to Blavatsky. Ilia Blavatsky (right) was a Greek Catholi
  • True Orthodox secret monasticism Ukraine

    These photographs were taken during a raid on an underground monastery by the Soviet secret police, the NKGB in 1945. The images provide visual representations of a vernacular subterranean architecture developed by True Orthodox Christian communities in Soviet-era Ukraine. The monastery was located in the underground vault dug out under a private house (see the first image) in the small town of Chuguev, near Kharkov, northeast Ukraine. The twenty two photographs enclosed in the secret police file give a detailed description of the underground construction. Images 2 and 3 depicts two entries to
  • Crime scene photographs True Orthodox Church Ukraine

    In 1945, the police raided an underground monastery of True Orthodox Christians (TOC). It was located in a vault under a private house in the town of Chuguev, near Kharkov, Ukraine. As a result, nine believers (most of them nuns and monks) were arrested with hieromonk Seraphim (Shevtsov) amongst them. All religious artefacts belonging to the community were confiscated and most of them were later destroyed. The photographs presented in this entry were taken during the raid and were later attached to a NKGB criminal file as incriminating evidence. The images portray confiscated church property
  • Model religious network schemes Soviet Union

    These two images come from two exemplary closing indictments against the so-called "ecclesiastic-monarchist, counter-revolutionary organisation", the True Orthodox Church. They were published as top secret brochures by the Soviet secret police (OGPU) in 1931. Network schemes were carefully and precisely designed and printed using very advanced photo-printing technology for the time. Through complex sets of social links, the schemes represent religious communities as centralised insurgent political organisations. At the very bottom are “local (rural) cells” (sel’skie iacheiki) – basic relig
  • True Orthodox Church secret police network scheme Ukraine

    This scheme of a religious network was produced as part of a review of criminal cases against believers of the True Orthodox Church. It was published in 1931 as a top-secret document by the Soviet secret police (OGPU) in Moscow. This image has been given the title "Scheme of the All-Union Counter-Revolutionary Monarchist Organisation of Churchmen (the 'True Orthodox Church'), liquidated by the Secret Political Department OGPU". Schemes such as this one were designed to represent the religious movement as an organised hierarchical structure, where the "ecclesiastical political centre" in Mosco
  • Confiscated manuscript of Pentecostal prophecy Ukraine

    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 f
  • 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 Ukraini
  • Photo-collage and network scheme True Orthodox believers Russia

    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 repre
  • Secret police instructional publication on Russian Orthodox clandestine groups

    The images are a photo-collage and scheme of a “liquidated” religious network produced as part of a closing indictment in a collective penal case against one hundred believers, followers of underground popular Orthodox movements, referred to as the Samosviatsy and the Ioannits. The group on trial were monks and nuns from closed Orthodox monasteries and ordinary believers from the Ukrainian and Russian countryside. They rejected both Soviet power and the Russian Orthodox Church authority as they believed the Orthodox Church was compromised by collaboration with the Bolsheviks. The network, whic