Alexis, Bishop And Hieromartyr Of Voronezh And Those With Him 3 of 5

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On February 1, 1930, Bishop Alexis was taken under guard in Solovki for spreading Archbishop Seraphim of Uglich's "Appeal to the whole Church", and together with Archpriests John Steblin-Kamensky and Nicholas Dulov was taken by convoy to Voronezh. From March (or May) 5 they were in the local prison. Bishop Alexis was interrogated by A.V. Kazansky several times, but without result. In his last protocol Bishop Alexis wrote in his own hand: "I do not admit myself to have been guilty in anything."

Indictments were read out against 38 supposed leaders of the organization. On July 28, 1930, the OGPU pronounced its verdict: 12 people were condemned to be shot, 14 - to ten years in the camps, 10 - to five years, one was exiled for five years to Solovki and one was given a three-year suspended sentence in the camps.

During the night of August 2, 1930, the following were shot in Voronezh: the priests Archimandrite Tikhon, Hieromonk George (Pozharov), Fr. John Steblin-Kamensky, Fr. Sergius Gortinsky, Fr. Theodore Yakovlev, Fr. Alexander Archangelsky, Fr. George Nikitin, Fr. Cosmas Vyaznikov, and the laymen Mark Tymchishin, Euthymius Grebenshchikov and Peter Vyaznikov.

Archimandrite Tikhon, in the world Timothy Ulyanovich Krechkov, was born in 1862 in the village of Platava, Ostrogozhsky uyezd, Voronezh province. He was for a long time been a hieromonk and the treasurer of the Alexeyevsky monastery, and showed great zeal in the beautifying of the churches. He was arrested on January 30, 1930 (according to another source - February 2), and on July 28 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out of August 2, 1930.

Hieromonk George Dmitrievich Pozharov was born in 1886 in the village of Malaya Privalovka, Usmansk uyezd, Voronezh province. In 1927 he moved to Voronezh from Tver province, and in 1928 joined the Josephites. By 1930 he was serving in Usmansk district. He was arrested in February-March, 1930 and on July 28 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out on August 2, 1930.

Fr. Alexander Nikolayevich Archangelsky was born in 1873 in the village of Soskhki, Lipetsk uyezd, Tambov province. At the end he was serving as a priest in the churches of Buturlinovka (Bobrov), and was the uyezd dean. He was the leader of one of the strongholds of the "Buyevtsy", and was responsible for a number of peasant demonstrations. He was arrested in March, 1930, and on July 28 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out on August 2, 1930.

Fr. George Nikitovich Nikitin was born in 1870 in the village of Afanaska, Ostrovsky uyezd, Pskov province. He led the community of Johnnites in the village of Palanka, Tulchinsky district, in the Ukraine. He served as a reader in the Josephite churches in Petrograd from 1928 to August, 1929, and was the Buyevites' link with the south of Russia, the Ukraine and Petrograd diocese. He was ordained to the diaconate on August 28, 1929, and to the priesthood on August 28, by Bishop Joasaph (Popov). He went with a letter of this bishop to Tambov, but on his way back was arrested in a train in March, 1930, and on July 28 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out on August 2, 1930.

Fr. Cosmas Trophimovich Vyaznikov was born in 1872 in the village of Staro- Nikolskoye, Usmansky uyezd, Voronezh province. He served in the church of the village of Semidesyatnogo, Gremyachevsky region. He was said to be leader of a counter-revolutionary movement in Platava and was arrested in February-March, 1930 in connection with the affair of the "Buyevites". He was sentenced on July 28 to be shot. The sentence was carried out on August 2, 1930.

Mark Petrovich Tymchishin was born in 1882 in Kamenets-Podolsk province, in a peasant family. During the civil war he fought with the Whites under General A.G. Shkuro. From the 1920s he was living in Voronezh, and was an active Josephite. He was arrested in February, 1930 and on July 28 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out on August 2, 1930.

Euthymius Nikiforovich Grebenshchikov was born in 1904, and lived in the village of Platava, Repyevsky region, Ostrozhsky district. He was one of the leaders of the massive demonstration of peasants in the village in January, 1930. He was arrested in March, 1930 and on July 28 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out on August 2, 1930.

Peter Mikhailovich Vyaznikov was born in 1876, and lived in the village of Platava, Repyevsky region, Ostrozhsky district. He was one of the leaders of the massive demonstration of peasants in the village in January, 1930. He was arrested in March, 1930 and on July 28 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out on August 2, 1930.

Fr. John Nikolayevich Ivanov was born in 1878 in Pavlovsk, Voronezh province. He was rector of the church in the village of Verkhnyaya Kotukhovka, Kamensky region. He was arrested in February-March, 1930 in connection with the affair of the "Buyevtsy" and on July 28 was sentenced to ten years in the camps. From September 12 he was on Solovki.

Fr. James Pavlovich Lisitsky was born in 1896 in the village of Alexeyvka, Ostrozhsky uyezd, Voronezh province. He served in the church of the village of Khrenovskoye-Vyselki, Usmansky district. He was sentenced to two months hard labour for not appearing for registration in 1925, and to three months hard labour for insulting the village administration in 1929. In February-March, 1930 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Buyevtsy and on July 28 was condemned to ten years in the camps. From September 12, 1930 he was on Solovki.

Fr. Gabriel Yakovlevich Azarov was born in 1892 in the village of Kostenki, Gremyachevsky uyezd, Voronezh province. At the end of the 1920s he was serving in the church of the village of Semidesyatoye, Usmansky region. He was arrested in February-March, 1930 in connection with the affair of the Buyevtsy and on July 28 was sentenced to ten years in the camps. From September 12, 1930 he was on Solovki.

Fr. Michael Alexeyevich Uvarov was born in Khilkovo, Kirsansky uyezd, Tambov province. He served in the church of the village of Vtoraya Usman, N-Usmansky region. He was arrested in March, 1930 in connection with the affair of the Buyevtsy and on July 28 was sentenced to ten years in the camps. From September 12, 1930 he was on Solovki.

Fr. Peter Petrovich Korystin was born in 1881 in the village of Uglyanets, Usmansky uyezd, Voronezh province. He served in the church of the village of N-Ikorets. In March, 1930 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Buyevtsy and on July 28 was sentenced to five years in the camps.

Fr. Alexis Alexandrovich Ryltsevich was born in 1879 in Grodno. He served in the church of the village of Platava, Ostrogozhsky region. In March, 1930 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Buyevtsy and on July 28 was sentenced to five years in the camps. From September 12, 1930 he was on Solovki.

Igumen Joseph Ivanovich Yatsuk was born in 1866 in the village of Ozeryany, Lokhvitsky uyezd, Poltava province. He was arrested in 1921. From 1928 he was a Josephite in Voronezh diocese. He was arrested in February, 1930 and on July 28 was sentenced to five years in the camps. He was on Solovki from September 12, 1930. From February to July, 1931 he was under investigation for anti-Soviet agitation in camp in connection with the affair of Bishop Arcadius (Ostalsky).

Also sentenced in this year were:-

Hieromonk Melchisedek (Khukhryansky) was born in 1887 in Buturlinovka sloboda, Rossoshansky uyezd, Voronezh province. In the 1920s he was a monk in the Valuysky monastery in Voronezh diocese, and was the cell-attendant of Archimandrite Ignatius (Biryukova). In June, 1929 he went to Archbishop Demetrius (Lyubimov) in Petrograd, and was the link between the Voronezh Josephites and Bishop Joasaph (Popov), who in July, 1929 ordained him to the priesthood. From 1929 he served in the church of the village of Rudnevo, Rossoshansky uyezd. In February, 1930 he was arrested and on July 13 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out in July, 1930.

The priest Fr. Pantaleimon Beda served in the church of a monastery. He was arrested in February, 1930 in connection with the "Buyevtsy" affair and died in exile.

Deacon Panteleimon was also arrested in the Alexeyev monastery in 1930 and shot.

Fr. Peter Vasilyevich Strukov was born in 1887 in the village of Usman, Usmansky uyezd, Voronezh province, in a peasant family. In the 1920s he was a reader in the Alexeyev monastery and was ordained to the priesthood at the end of 1929. By May, 1930 he was superior of the church in the monastery. On May 20, 1930 he was arrested and on July 13 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out in July, 1930.

Vladimir Theodorovich Karelsky (born 1888) was the son of a priest. He became a corporal in the tsarist army, and then a lecturer in the Voronezh agricultural institute. In 1926, Archbishop Peter was asked about Vladimir Theodorovich's rule in church life and his relations with the deceased Metropolitan Vladimir (Shimkevich). He was not arrested at that time, but in 1930 he received it in full for "conducting anti-Soviet agitation while in the Alexeyev monastery among believers, and calling on the people to hold to the old faith and not submit to the antichristian authority". He was sentenced to ten years, and carried out his sentence on canal construction sites. In 1968, while living in Ivanovo, he was rehabilitated.

It was decided not to carry out the death sentence against Bishop Alexis. He and Archpriest Nicholas Dulov were brought to trial in connection with the affair of the All-Union Centre "True Orthodoxy" and were kept in Butyrki prison in Moscow until September, 1931. On September 3, Bishop Alexis was sentenced to ten years in the Svir camps, Leningrad province.

The reverberations from this trial continued to be felt in later years. Thus in 1930-31 the editor of the Voronezh Telegraph, A.N. Averin, the lawyer S.A. Petrovsky, and the workers in the local history museum, V.V. Litvinov and T.M. Oleinikov, were all accused of taking part in the church rebellion while being tried in connection with the "local history worker" affair.

In June, 1931, the authorities closed the Alexeyev Akatov monastery in Voronezh. Of the monks who still remained, some were arrested and others were dispersed. It seemed that this was the end of the "Buyevtsy". But after hiding for a time in the underground, the Voronezh Josephites again set to work in January, 1932.

The leader of the reestablished "Buyevtsy" centre in Voronezh was Hieromonk Bassian, in the world Basil Dmitrievich Molodtskoy, who was born in 1871 in the village of Zemlyansk, Voronezh province. In the 1920s he served as a hierodeacon in the Metrophanes monastery, and also in Voskresensky church and the Alexeyev monastery until its closure in July, 1931. He served in the church of the village of Uglyanets, R-Khavsky region from January to October, 1932. This was chosen as the centre of the activity of the Buyevtsy because it was situated in a remote wooded area but was at the same time not far from Voronezh. In August, 1932 Fr. Bassian visited Bishop Alexis in Svirlag and witnessed: "His Grace Vladyka Alexis blessed us for further difficult exploits in the defence and strengthening of True Orthodoxy, saying that we should continue our work and draw more people to our side, explaining and convincing them that Soviet power... does works that are pleasing only to the Antichrist and is hostile to the true Christian, and that the true Christian must not be troubled by Soviet power, but - the main thing - should not join the collective farms." Fr. Bassian was arrested on October 20, 1932 in Voronezh, and on April 2, 1933 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was commuted to ten years in the camps. He was on Solovki from the end of August, 1933. He died in exile.

Another leader was the Nun Anatolia (Sushkova), who was born in Kozlov, Tambov province. From 1900 to 1917 she was in the Nikolo-Balynsky monastery, Ryazan province; from 1917 - in Kozlov, and in the Pokrov Devichi monastery in Voronezh until its closure in May, 1928. She was arrested in 1929 and after serving her sentence in the Svir camp returned to Voronezh in 1932. She was arrested in connection with the second affair of the Buyevtsy on October 20, 1932, and on March 28, 1933 was sentenced to ten years in the camps.

The reconstituted "Buyevtsy" diocesan centre quickly united 27 groups - in Voronezh, Kozlov and 25 villages, in the majority of which churches that had separated from Metropolitan Sergius could still function legally. Unfortunately, Fr. Basil Kravtsov, the superior of the Uglyanets church, was recruited by the OGPU and from March, 1932, operating with the codename "Martov", began to incriminate True Orthodox Christians. In August Bishop Alexis appointed Fr. Basil as dean of the Voronezh diocese and indicated that they should continue to commemorate his name during the Divine services. By the autumn 64 new "Buyevtsy" had been arrested and condemned by a troika of the OGPU. On October 4, 74 more people ware arrested. These arrests continued until January 4, 1933. A second "Buyevtsy" affair was fabricated, in connection with which 202 people were investigated.

The defendants conducted themselves with great steadfastness. Thus Nun Anatolia (Sushkova) declared at her interrogation on November 3: "In accordance with my political world-view, I am hostile to the existing regime in Russia for the following reasons: Soviet power is an atheist power which wages war on religion and closes churches, repressing the clergy and thereby persecuting the faith. But we Buyevtsy are conducting an irreconcilable struggle with Soviet power and its enterprises, creating the most fitting cadres of True Orthodox Christians, who can be strong fighters for the Christian faith in Russia."

Again, the priest Fr. Alexander Sviridov, the "leader of the Podgorensky branch", declared that the actions of the authorities in relation to the Church and in the creation of collective farms was unjust: "The clergy is being persecuted. In order to close the Church down, all of the clergy without exception are being accused of conducting propaganda and imprisoned. Atheism is being imposed. The churches of the peasants are being desecrated, ignorance is being inculcated... In spite of the wishes of the majority of the peasants, collective farms are being created which only harm the peasants, for they are not ready for them. Without taking into account the capacities of the peasants, they are imposing intolerable taxes on them, condemning them to certain death."

This second "Buyevtsy" trial involved one bishop, 13 priests, 44 monks and nuns, 4 "wandering churchmen", 2 former policemen, 8 kulaks and merchants, one handicraftsman and one civil servant.

On November 1, 1932, Bishop Alexis was taken to Solovki, and then, on December 19 (according to another source, December 21), he was taken under guard to Voronezh. His first interrogation took place in the local prison on December 21. In his cell he was surrounded by stooges and informers who reported his every word. On December 25, according to OGPU records, Bishop Alexis repented of his opposition to Soviet power and counter-revolutionary activity. On December 27, however, according to the informer "Martov" (Fr. Basil Kravtsov) he said that this repentance had been a lie, a manoeuvre by which he hoped to shorten his own and the others' investigations. And on December 28 he declared to Fr. Kravtsov: "They want to use me to liquidate... the True Orthodox movement. I will never do this, even if they threaten me with death. I am ready to die for the Holy Church with a clean conscience." Three months later the investigation of Bishop Alexis came to an end. Agent "Martov" was released after the investigation.

From March 12, 1933 to April of the same year, Bishop Alexis was in prison in Butyrki, Moscow. From the end of April he was again on Solovki, where he worked in a wood-polishing section.

On March 28, 1933, a troika of the OGPU for the Central Black Earth region sentenced 56 of the accused in the second Buyevtsy trial, and on April 2 - a further 19. 22 people were condemned to ten years in the camps, 48 - to shorter periods of imprisonment or exile in Kazakhstan, while the following were condemned to death: Hieromonk Bassian, Hieromonk Seraphim, Fr. Alexander Dubinin, Fr. Demetrius Zagumennykh, Fr. Theodore Luzganov and Hierodeacon Barsonuphius.

Hieromonk Seraphim, in the world Tikhon Mitrophanovich Protopopov, was born in 1909 in the village of Petino, Gremyachevsky uyezd, Voronezh province. In the 1920s he was condemned for non-payment of taxes. In 1932 he became a Josephite, was tonsured into monasticism, and in April and August visited Bishop Alexis in the camp (the second time with Hieromonk Bassian). He was arrested on October 24, 1932 and on March 28, 1933 was sentenced to ten years in the camps.

Fr. Alexander Pavlovich Dubinin was born in 1896 in Poltava province. In 1928 he was sentenced to three years deprivation of freedom. At the beginning of the 1930s he was rector of the church in the village of Panino, Panino region. He was arrested in November, 1932 in connection with the second affair of the Buyevtsy, and on April 2, 1933 was sentenced to be shot. However, the sentence was commuted to ten years in the camps. At the end of August, 1933 he was sent under convoy to Solovki. On November 11, 1937 the Petrograd NKVD sentenced him to be shot. The sentence was carried out on December 8, 1937 in Petrograd.

Fr. Demetrius Trophimovich Zagumennykh was born in 1892 in Tambov. He was rector of the church in the village of Ivanovka, Panino region. He was arrested in November, 1932 in connection with the second affair of the Buyevtsy, and on April 2, 1933 was sentenced to be shot. However, the sentence was commuted to ten years in the camps. He was sent under convoy to Solovki at the end of August, 1933.

Fr. Theodore Ivanovich Luzganov was born in 1867. He was "dekulakized" in the village of Dmitrievka, Panino region and sentenced to death. However, after several weeks of waiting for death, the sentence was commuted to ten years in the camps.

Hierodeacon Barsonuphius, in the world Basil Yakovlevich Fursov, was born in 1881 in Voronezh. At the beginning of the 1930s he was serving as a deacon in the church of the village of Uglyanets. He was arrested in 1931, but soon released. He was arrested again on October 24, 1932 in connection with the second affair of the Buyevtsy, and on April 2, 1933 was sentenced to be shot. However, the sentence was commuted to ten years in the camps. He was sent under convoy to Solovki at the end of August, 1933.

Among the laymen who were sent to the camps were G.I. Zatsepin, V.N. Yenin and Ya.P. Lisitsky. They later appealed for rehabilitation, but their appeal was refused in 1957.

According to the very approximate estimates of the OGPU, in 1929 there numbered about 700 active members of the True Orthodox Church, while in 1930-31 up to one thousand were "discovered", and in 1932 - another 27 groups comprising 202 people. In 1929 the organs of the OGPU arrested at least 33 clergy. Among the 567 people investigated by the OGPU in 1930-32, 97 were priests, 120 were monastics and one was a bishop - Bishop Alexis.


End of part 3
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