Archives of the Information and Security Services of the Republic of Moldova

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  • Mugshots of Spiritual Fathers from Odaia, Moldova

    The mugshot is one of the main visual materials produced by the secret police during their investigations. Together with fingerprints and personal information, mugshots connect the police image of the alleged enemy to an actual person, whom they show stripped of personal dignity and agency, often head-shaven, dejected, pensive and nervous. Mugshots are contained in almost all secret police criminal investigation case files and were produced according to a very precise set of rules which makes them very similar from one case to another. Although at a first glance they seem less interesting than
  • Defaced portraits of Soviet leaders Moldova

    These mass produced postcard-sized portraits of three soviet leaders, Nikita Khrushchev, Lavrentiy Beria and Anastas Mikoyan, have been torn and inserted into an envelope as evidence in a secret police personal file referring to a collective penal case. They were found during the search of a house of an Inochentist leader on February 11th 1953, a few weeks before Stalin’s death. From the perspective of secret police, the disrespectful attitude towards the abovementioned leaders of those who had torn these pictures equated to an anti-Soviet act. The origin of the defaced images is open to a n
  • Confiscated photographs of Archangelist women Moldova

    This page from an MGB investigation file from 1947 from Soviet Moldavia shows three images of women preachers from the Archangelist movement, a branch of Inochentism. The first image portrays the women holding crosses in their right hand, facing the camera and cut off at waist height. The composition and symbolism of this image reproduce the visual language of icons. Images of this kind could offend the sensibilities of Orthodox believers. The two lower images carry the same imagery but in a less obvious way. The women are dressed conservatively in dark clothes that are inspired by monastic dr
  • Archangelist Staged Ritual Moldova

    This photograph which was taken by Soviet secret police officers appears to capture a ritual performed by Archangelists (a branch of the Inochentist movement) in one of their underground chapels. On closer inspection, however, it is evident that this is not a surveillance photograph but rather a staged reenactment performed for the camera. The framing, camera angle, lighting and mood of the photograph were all determined by the secret police photographer with the intention of creating a powerful image for use by the regime. Indeed, the two Archangelists, shown wearing ritual clothing and holdi