The investigation lasted for three weeks, until April 11. On April 17 and 18 Fr. John's parishioners sent further petitions to the authorities witnessing to his good works and peaceful intentions. On April 21, the trial began in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, in the local theatre, and lasted until April 25.
Fr. Paul refused to accept his guilt. On being asked whether he had received any instructions from his bishop, and whether he considered the fulfilment of Patriarch Tikhon's as obligatory, he replied that he had received no instructions from his bishop and that he considered the fulfilment of the Patriarch's epistle as obligatory.
Fr. John similarly refused to accept any guilt.
Peter Ivanovich Yazikov also refused to accept that he had been guilty. And he confirmed that he had said that the state commission had been drunk when it entered the cathedral. Peter Ivanovich had been born in 1881 in Shuya. He had been educated in a pious family, and since childhood had gone to church and sung on the kliros. He worked in the textile mill as head of the smelting-house.
At the end of the trial, the president Galkin suggested that the accused would get more lenient sentences if they repented before the authorities and if they provided certain additional facts. Fr. John, for example, could say from where he got the Patriarch's epistle. However, Fr. John said that he did not know where it came from.
When the court called on the accused to repent, Fr. Paul replied: "I cannot lie. And I repeat that I took no part in the resistance to the requisitioning. If I am guilty of anything, then it is perhaps the indefiniteness of my position. My position was between the authorities and the Church. The authorities demanded their own, while there was no completely clear instructions from the Church on how to act. But I did not thirst for blood, as the prosecutor indicates. I ask you not to apply the extreme penalty to me, not for my sake, I am ready for death, but for the sake of my children, since my execution will strike them above all, for they already have no mother and now will have no father."
On April 25 the following verdicts were read out:
(a) Sergius Ivanovich Korovin and Priests John Lavrov and Alexander Smelchakov - two years in prison, but suspended in view of their repentance and advanced age (the priests were released because they recognized that Soviet power had the complete right to remove the church valuables and declared that they did not know the church canons which forbade such requisitioning as sacrilege);
(b) Alexander Mikhailovich Paramanov - one year in prison (he was accused of not stopping the children when they rang the bell);
(c) Euthymius Fyodorovich Sharonov and John Iliaronovich Gureyev - two years in prison;
(d) Michael Vladimirovich Medvedev, Alexander Aggeyevich Gorshkov, Constantine Mikhailovich Bugrov and Basil Kornilovich Afanasiev - three years in prison;
(e) Chariton Ignatievich Borisov, John Vasilyevich Kryukov and Olga Stolbunov - five years in prison;
(f) Peter Ivanovich Yazykov, Basil Osipovich Pokhlebkin, and Priests John Stepanovich Rozhdestvensky and Paul Mikhailovich Svetozarov - execution by shooting, to be changed to five years in prison in the case of Pokhlebkin in view of his "pure-hearted repentance and lack of full awareness".
Peter Yazykov was born in 1881 in the city of Shuye. He was brought up in a pious family and from childhood went to church and sang on the kliros. He was head of the foundry department in a Shuye factory.
On April 26 the parishioners of Palekh sent a telegram petitioning for mercy. The presidium of the VTsIK decided to have mercy on those condemned to execution. However, Stalin decided to refer the matter to the Politburo, where Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and Molotov voted for a confirmation of the death sentence. And so, on May 10, 1922 at two o'clock in the morning, the sentences on Fathers John and Paul, and on Peter Ivanovich, were carried out.
Before the executions, the two priests chanted the burial service for themselves and Peter Ivanovich, and behaved with courage. The last prayer of Fr. Paul was for his orphaned children. His prayer was heard. His younger daughter Antonina died at the end of the 1980s in her father's house.
(Sources: Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Novye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, 1949-57, part 1, pp. 213-14; "Shuiskiye Mucheniki", Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizheniya, 170, III-1994, pp. 179-204; Gregory Ravich, "Ograblennij Khristos, ili brillianty dlya diktatury proletariata", Chas-Pik, N 18; Hieromonk Damascene (Orlovsky), Mucheniki, Ispovedniki i Podvizhniki Blagochestiya Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi XX Stoletiya, Tver: Bulat, volume 2, 1996, pp. 37-53)
The priest of the village of Kamenka, Yurevetsky region, Fr. Nicholas Apolov, was the superior of the church of the Nativity of Christ and a teacher of the Law of God in the school. He was very well known among the peasants both as a worthy priest and as a doctor who successfully healed diseases of the eyes.
During the persecutions at the beginning of the 1920s two village atheists tried to shoot Fr. Nicholas, but the people intervened and did not allow the pastor to be killed. The next time they came in larger numbers, and armed with rifles and stakes, and arrested him.
Together with Fr. Nicholas they arrested two priests, one of whom was called Michael, and the other - Vinogradov, and two deacons, one of whom was called Zlatoustovsky. They all died in prison.
The priest Nicholas served in the village of Vasilyevsky, Shuye region. At the beginning of the 1920s he was arrested, and died in prison.
The priest Michael Nikolsky served in the village of Georgievsky, Ivanovo region. In 1929, when they came to arrest him, his wife said to him:
"Wait, I'll bring some bread and underwear for you."
The GPU agents did not let her, saying:
"It's not necessary, you can bring them to the village soviet tomorrow."
In the morning when she arrived, they told her that Fr. Michael had been taken away to Kineshma prison. Matushka went to Kineshma, and there they told her that there was no such person there. Only after many years did Fr. Michael's relatives learn from the authorities that he had been shot.
(Source: Hieromonk Damascene (Orlovsky), Mucheniki, Ispovedniki i Podvizhniki Blagochestiya Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi XX Stoletiya, Tver: Bulat, volume 2, 1996, p. 241)
Fr. Elijah Zotikov served in New York and New Jersey around the turn of the century. In 1930, according to Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, he was shot in Vladimir.
(Source; Patrick Barrett, e-mail, July 23, 1997)
In the village of Palishchi in Gus-Khristalny region, Vladimir province, there once lived only clergy with their families. The only laypeople who lived there were the Bogdanovs.
The Protserovy family belonged to the Ryazan nobility (Palishchi originally belonged to the Ryazan diocese). Basil Grigorievich and Eugene Grigorievich Protserovy were brothers. Fr. Basil served in Palishchi and was married to Antonina Nikolayevna Kharkova from Vishchura (Ryazan diocese). In 1937 Fr. Basil was seized and shot on the second day [of Pascha?] in Ivanovo. Protodeacon Kharkov, the father of his wife, who served with the Bishop of Ryazan, was also shot. Fr. Eugene finished his studies at theological seminary and fought in the First World War. After the revolution the soldiers did not allow the commissars to shoot their beloved commander.
The second priestly family in Palishchi were the Golovins. They served in the church of St. Elijah. Fr. John and Fr. Alexander Golovin were brothers. Protopriest Paul Ivanovich Golovin, Fr. John's son, was twice repressed: in 1929, when after three years in prison he was released, and again in 1937. The parishioners very much loved Fr. Paul, who denounced collectivization in her sermons, saying that it would produce nothing except thieves.
According to the witness of Fr. Paul's wife, Alexandra Pavlovna Golovin, all the priests of the village of Palishchi were seized in one night. A car came up and took away Deacon Nicholas Alexandrovich Protserov, Fr. Basil Protserov, the reader Paul Alexeyevich Rozhdestvin and Fr. Paul Golovin. There was clearly a plan to liquidate the Protserovs and Golovins because at the same time they arrested Fr. Sergius Protserov (Sergius Afanasievich Protserov) 200 kilometers away, in the village of Cherkasova, near the city of Tuma.
With them there also suffered Fr. Alexis Gratsinsky, who served as superior of the church in the city of Murom. Besides these clergy and priests there also lived in Palishchi the old priestly family of the Molebnovs.
Fr. Paul Golovin was sent to Vladimir transit prison, where he was condemned by a "troika" and shot. He was irreconcilably opposed both to renovationism and to Soviet power.
Alexandra Pavlovna Golovina said that the brother of her father, Fr. Basil Ivanovich Golovin, was also a priest. He finished his studies at the Tomsk theological seminary. After the ending of the persecution, he did not serve anymore, but lived in his own house working as a musician. The Golovin family was distinguished for its musical talent. Fr. Paul played the violin and the harmonium. And they put on the plays of Dostoyevsky in his home.
Another inhabitant of Palishchi, Fr. Michael, was dismissed from the front in the Second World War for some kind of foolery for Christ which shocked the army leaders. He settled as a hermit in a little house on the edge of the village. Once, during the 1970s, a priest came to serve in the St. Elijah church. To the amazement of many, Fr. Michael came out of his isolation and fiercely attacked the priest for being a member of the komsomol. Then he returned to his hermitage.
Fr. Michael was buried in the cemetery attached to the church of St. Paraskeva one hundred miles away from Palishchi, in the direction of Velikodvorye. His grave is next to that of the Valaam monk Fr. Pancratius, and is venerated by the villagers. On being vested for burial a priestly cross was found on him, so the inscription on the cross at his grave reads: "Priest Michael".
(Source: "Novomucheniki Vladimirshchiny", Pravoslavnaya Rus', N 2 (1575), January 15.28, 1997, pp. 4-5, 15)
Raisa Ivanovna was arrested in 1973 (according to another source, 1972) among a group of eleven True Orthodox women from Vladimir. She was a teacher, the mother of two children. She was sent to the camp for political prisoners in Mordovia (385/3) for seven years. In 1974 she was subjected to a psychiatric examination in the Serbsky Institute in Moscow. Then she was returned to the camp, where the administration tried by all means possible to find witnesses who would certify that she was mentally ill. A prisoner named Kogan (who was a provocateur in the opinion of several of the older prisoners) declared that Raisa had tried to kill her. She was then transferred to block 12, the psychiatric block in the camp hospital, from where she was transferred again to the special psychiatric hospital in Kazan. It is believed that she died on the way to Kazan in 1974.
Other True Orthodox women in the Mordovian women's camp for political prisoners were: Tatyana Krasnova, Nadezhda Usoyeva, Maria Semyonova, Alexandra Khvatkova, Irina Kireyeva, Anastasia Volkova, Catherine Alyoshina, Tatyana Sokolova and Glaphira Kuldysheva. All these women were over fifty when they entered the camp. They were serving their second or third ten-year sentence for "anti-Soviet propaganda" after being declared "particularly dangerous recidivists" by the courts.
Tatyana Krasnova was born in 1903 and was a resident of Vladimir. He served her first term in Kengir, Kazakhstan, and was released in 1955. She began serving her second term - nine years plus three years exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" - in 1973. She was considered "especially dangerous".
Nadezhda Mikhailovna Usoyeva was born in Vladimir in 1938. In 1972 she was sentenced to seven years' strict regime camp plus five years' exile. She was in prison in Belorussia and Barashevo. One document relates of her: "She has passed the whole of her life in PKTs and in punishment cells for refusing to work. Nadezhda, according to the testimony of her friend, is the most radiant personality of all the True Orthodox Christians. She is nobility, submissiveness and meekness incarnate. She arrives ill (only just come from the punishment cell) and they do not allow her to rest. They shout: 'Again to correction.' She quietly puts on her boots and shawl, and without murmuring goes again to the punishment cell: 'I'm coming, I'm coming.'"
Maria Pavlovna Semyonova was born in the early 1920s and was a resident of Ryazan. In 1961 she was sentenced to ten years for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda". On her release, she refused to take her certificate of release, passport and money. She was then accused by a KGB captain of having stolen ten roubles and in 1973 was sentenced again to ten years in Barashevo as an "especially dangerous criminal".
Alexandra Khvatkov was born in 1910 and was a resident of Vladimir. After serving terms in Vladimir prison, where she was almost continuously in the punishment cell, she was sentenced to two further terms of ten years each in strict regime camps (Barashevo, Mordovia). She suffered from a nervous disease and was often unable to get up for days and months at a time. Her son was a communist who had rejected her.
Irina Andreyevna Kireyeva was born in 1912 and was a resident of Vladimir. She was unmarried. She was serving her second term of ten years for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (in Barashevo). She suffered from terrible headaches due to high blood pressure, but was denied treatment for days on end because she would not sign an official document requesting it.
Anastasia Volkova was born in 1910 and was an unmarried postal worker. She was serving her second ten-year sentence in a strict regime camp (in Barashevo) for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda". She was considered "especially dangerous".
Catherine Aleshina was serving her second sentence (seven years from 1973) for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" in a Mordovian camp.
Tatyana Mikhailovna Sokolova was born in 1930 and was a resident of Gorky. She was serving a seven year sentence plus three years' exile in Barashevo. She had had a stroke and was considered third degree invalid. She refused to work and was often put in the punishment cell and refused medical treatment. She was often punished for not standing up when guards disturbed her prayers.
Glafira Kuldysheva was born in 1935. She was a dressmaker and had five or six grown-up children. Her husband considered her to be mentally ill. She refused to see her husband and children. She refused to bathe on religious feast days and was therefore forcibly dragged to the baths by the guards. She was a second degree invalid, having rheumatism and oedema. She was serving a long sentence in a strict regime camp (Barashevo, Mordovia).
Other True Orthodox women serving long terms in the Mordovian camps in this period were Nadezhda Grozena (born 1911), Mariam Mitrofarovna Varseyeva (born 1920) and Claudia Volkova.
The "crimes" of the True Orthodox consisted in having put leaflets in the sergianist churches calling on the clergy to renounce their collaboration with Soviet power. These leaflets contained verses such as: "Satan lies under the mausoleum, his flesh has been rotting for a long time". Some of them had photos and caricatures.
The True Orthodox refused to have their names inscribed on Soviet population registers and would not undertake any officially recognized work, refusing to sign any official document. They acted with great dignity, always saying what they were doing and never lying. After serving one term they were promptly put back in the camps on the same charges.
In the camp they refused to have any contact with the administration. So, for example, on arriving in the camp every woman had to sign for bedding. They did not sign, and slept on the ground. This continued until a commission arrived to visit the camp, after which they issued them with bedding over the signatures of other prisoners.
They categorically refused to work, which earned for them either prison in the camp (PTK) or solitary isolation (SHIZO). In the PTK their food was reduced to a minimum. In the SHIZO they had warm water and four grams of bread on the one day, cooked food on the next.
All of these women fasted strictly on Wednesdays and Fridays; some of them added Mondays. Every day, at 6 a.m., they would wash, pray until 8 a.m. and only then eat. It was the same in the evening.
When they were notified of a punishment (fifteen days in SHIZO, six months in PTK), they would say farewell to the other prisoners, kiss them all and then, prostrating before them, ask their forgiveness. Then they went joyfully to the cell. At the end of the punishment, some came out swaying with exhaustion, but they still refused to work and were again subjected to harsh punishment. It went on like this until, exhausted by suffering, they were declared invalids or unfit for work.
In the camps all the True Orthodox Christians conducted themselves with great dignity. They were distinguished by characters full of kindness and gentleness, and were loved and respected by the other detainees. No one was offended when they refused to join in collective actions against the administration (hunger strikes) because the prisoners saw that they were on a continuous voluntary fast.
On arriving in the camp, they lengthened their uniforms, enlarged the sleeves and closed the collars, thereby taking on the form of monastic clothing - and they were known as "the nuns" by the camp authorities.
The majority of them came from Vladimir region. They maintained secret relations with their co-religionists outside. They said that they became True Orthodox when they saw with their own eyes how the agents of the KGB practised surveillance over the believers in church. In general, they had had no more than two or three years in school.
All had contracted chronic illnesses in the camps. Their behaviour made the already severe regime of the camp a slow death for them. They understood this, and accepted it with joy.
The poetess Irina Ratushinskaya, who was in camp with these women, writes: "These gentle, steadfast and humble women obviously made a powerful impression on everyone who encountered them. And understandably so. An ordinary female prisoner will shower you with a string of curses for the most trivial reason, but these women would react quite differently: 'May the Lord forgive you, my son.'
"Even upon release, they would refuse to accept the document attesting to the completion of their sentence. Off they would go, without a single scrap of paper, heading for a new and certain arrest and sentence. From their point of view, this was perfectly normal: were they not suffering for God? In their eyes, it is we who act unnaturally: we submit to Satan and his minions - the Soviet government - in order to escape persecution. And Satan, they know, will never give up of his own accord - he shall merely exploit any sign of weakness to his greater gain, penetrate ever deeper into your soul. That was and is the reasoning of the 'True Orthodox'. Some of them are still alive, living in internal exile. Yet the exile sentences of some of our babushki had expired, and they did not return to the Zone: so Satan was defeated, after all, forced into retreat. Others of them are still to be found in some of the camps with calm, serene faces, ever ready to lay down their lives for the Lord: to what great honour can one aspire?
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