Red Persecution of Christians In Russia

Red Persecution of Christians In Russia

Churches suffered the greatest persecution of all Russian history during the Communist regime. This short video outlines the terrible onslaught against Christians by the Bolsheviks. It makes the current re-Christianisation of Russia under Vladimir Putin all the more remarkable, and welcome.


From the very moment that the Bolsheviks (very few of whom were actually Russian) took power, not only priests, but also ordinary believers — Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant — were added to the list of enemies.

The Council of Commissioners of the People” in February 1918 created the VČK, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission Combating Counterrevolution and Sabotage, giving it the power for eliminating all opponents without any legality and control (that’s why no statistics exist on the victims during Lenin’s secretariat).

Early in 1918 began the expropriation of all buildings of the Church as a consequence of the decree on the separation of Church and State. During the course of 1918, all the institutions of religious learning were closed, more than half of the existing monasteries were nationalized, and the system of peison camps for the enemies of the people was organized, giving origin to the GULag, an acronym of Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerej (that is the General Administration of Concentration Camps).

A new wave of repressions began in 1929. In the period from 1929 to 1933, 40,000 clergy members were arrested. The majority of them were sentenced to incarceration in concentration camps, many were shot. As in the 1937 census the majority of the people defined themselves as “believers”, the data of the Census were kept secret but a new and cruel repression was ordered.

Some sort of religious renaissance took place during the war, as Stalin needed the moral and — mainly — patriotic support of the Church during the invasion of the German Army, but with the victorious end of the war repression became as previously, and in the second half of the ’50s, Khrushchev’s aim at building up a real communist country and a real “communist man” by the ’80s induced a strengthen pressure against the Church, particularly in his native Ukraine.

In 1961, a prohibition was passed against the ringing of church bells and against charitable activity that benefited churches or monasteries. In the mass media, an extensive campaign of slander was waged against the clergy. Clergy members, their families and even ordinary religious believers could be subjected to discrimination at work, in school, in the army and in day-to-day life. In contrast to the pre-war repressions, in the 1960s neither priests nor laypeople were executed or sent to prison. They were forced, in essence, to denounce the Church, and thereby their faith, and they were made pariahs in society.

While the Orthodox Church led a shadowy existence during Leonid Brezhnev’s administration, the Catholic Church was subject to even stronger restrictions. Only two catholic parishes were opened in Russia, one in Moscow (St. Ludwig) and one in Leningrad (Mother of God of Lourdes) during the Brezhnev era. Beginning in the late 1970s, these two communities experienced a growing participation of young people who belonged mainly to the intelligentsia.

Finally, after the grey period of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, at the end of 1987 Michael Gorbachev stopped the official atheistic propaganda and the hate against the religious communities.

Under Vladimir Putin, however, thousands of churches have been re-opened or rebuilt, and record numbers of Russians now attend church regularly.