Persecution of Believers, March 1978 (CCE 48.16), pt 2

[1] CATHOLICS IN MOLDAVIA

[2] ADVENTISTS

[3] PENTECOSTALISTS

[4] BAPTISTS

[3] Pentecostalists

In 1973 Pentecostalist A. V. Chertkova (b. 1927), was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

During the course of several years Chertkova had been trying to obtain accommodation in Alma-Ata [Kazakh SSR]. She did not manage to get either a room or a place in a hostel. The town authorities gave her to understand that the reason for this was that she was a religious believer. In 1969, with her own money, Chertkova tried to build a house on the outskirts of the town. The building was twice demolished by bulldozers and the building materials destroyed. Then Chertkova built a hut and spent two winters in it. The deputy city procurator summoned Chertkova several times and told her to leave Alma-Ata, threatening her otherwise with a psychiatric hospital.

Arina Vasilevna Chertkova has already spent five years in psychiatric hospitals. At present she is in the special psychiatric hospital in Tashkent.

* * *

On 16 November 1977 Pentecostalist minister Vasily Bilyk of the town of Sukhodolsk, Voroshilovgrad Region, was summoned for interrogation by the Krasnodar KGB. Meanwhile, with the sanction of Volgin, the chief psychiatrist of Krasnodon hospital, Bilyk’s wife Maria Dmitrievna was interned in a psychiatric hospital.

* * *

The Pentecostalist congregation in Vinnitsa [Ukraine] numbers over one thousand people. They are divided into 12 groups. Religious services are held in private flats. In February there was a stepping-up of “atheistic work” in the town — watches were set up on the streets of the town with the aim of detecting meetings of believers. On 26 February officials entered the house where a group of Pentecostalists, led by Nikolai Polyakov, had gathered. Polyakov asked the believers to disperse. He was asked to make out a list of those who had been at the meeting. He refused. He and the owner of the house were fined 50 roubles. Two days later Polyakov, who worked as a fire-engine driver, was dismissed.

* * *

On 5 March 1978 members of the Pentecostalist congregation in the town of Maloyaroslavets, Kaluga Region, gathered for a religious service in the home of E. V. Semeryanova. The meeting was conducted by I. P. Fedotov, who was released from imprisonment in August 1977 (CCEs 34.//, 36.//, 41.//). During the service T. P. Rogachevskaya, secretary of the district soviet executive committee, together with three policemen and three voluntary militia in plain clothes entered the house. Trying to interrupt the prayer, Rogachevskaya thumped on the table with her fist, ordered the believers to be silent and seized the Bible from the table. Then Fedotov started to say in his prayer that officials had arrived and were violating not only a religious service, but also their own laws and the Helsinki Agreement. After this the visitors went out into the kitchen and there awaited the end of the meeting. After the service they took down the name and place of work of all those present and asked them to have a talk about registration.

Fedotov was summoned to Kaluga to Ryabov, commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs. Fedotov complained to Ryabov about school-children from the “Young Followers of Dzerzhinsky” organization who frequently broke the windows in believers’ houses. He told how officials take down the texts of Holy Writ from the walls in believers’ homes. Ryabov called this hooliganism and wrote down the addresses of believers so as to check the facts. Soon after, Fedotov and Semeryanova were each fined 50 roubles each.

* * *

In the town of Maloyaroslavets [Kaluga Region] Pentecostalist V. D. Korneyev has been condemned to 5 years’ strict-regime camp for refusing to serve in the army. This is Korneyev’s second term. The first was 3 years’ ordinary-regime camp which he received for the same “crime”. On returning home he was again called up for the army and again refused to serve.

Viktor Dmitrievich Korneyev is serving his term in the village of Tavarkovo, Kaluga Region.

* * *

Pentecostalist Yevgeny Strelkov* who is doing his military service in the town of Chekhov, Moscow Region, is being threatened with prosecution for refusal to take the military oath.

* * *

On 29 December a general meeting was held at the Rovno furniture factory [Belorussian SSR]. The subject of discussion was a letter from factory employee Pavlovets to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. In his letter the Pentecostalist Pavlovets complained about the school administration’s attitude to his daughter Lyudmila, a pupil in the second form.

Those who spoke demanded that Pavlovets be deprived of his rights as a parent. City procurator Bulgakov spoke at the meeting.

A decision was passed to ask the procuracy to start a case to deprive Pavlovets of his rights as a parent if he continued to educate his daughter in a religious spirit. On 3 January Pavlovets was summoned by the secretary of the city Party committee Ovcharenko who repeated what had been said at the meeting.

* * *

In November 1977 the Swedish Pentecostalists Sareld and Engstrom (CCEs 46.// and 47.//) were released and returned to Sweden. Others continue to be interrogated about the evidence they provided. In Kiev, from 8 to 10 February 1978, KGB Major Rublyov presented the Swedes’ evidence to Yakov Gavryshev, Adam //Ozercliuk and Ivan Levchuk.

In December, Martinson, the director of the Slavic Mission, stated that the Pentecostalists of Sweden (there are about 90,000 of them), would like to maintain relations with unofficial Pentecostalist churches in the Soviet Union and to regularly send them religious literature. In connection with the case of Sareld and Engstrom, Martinson said that Swedish Pentecostalists had resorted to clandestine means of sending religious literature, since they saw no other way. Now the Slavic Mission had resolved to make an appeal about this to the Soviet government.

Mission representatives had already tried to hand over Bibles through the Patriarchate but were refused. Then they had appealed to the official Baptists’ union, but they neither refused nor agreed.

* * *

On the Pentecostalists see also the section The Right to Leave.

[4] Baptists

(Based mainly on materials from the Bulletin of the Council of Baptist Prisoners’ Relatives Nos. 46 & 47)

At the end of 1977 repressions against the Baptist communities united by the Council of Churches increased sharply.

On 17 November and 29 December 1977, Grigory Vasilyevich Kostyuchenko, a minister of the Baptist congregation in the town of Timashevsk, Krasnodar Region, and active supporter of the Baptist Council of Churches, was condemned to one year’s imprisonment on a charge of parasitism. As minister he had been supported by the members of his congregation. Kostyuchenko recently ended a previous term of imprisonment. He has a sick wife and nine children to support.

On 19 December 1977,  Ivan Yakovlevich Antonov (CCE 47.//), a member of the Baptist Council of Churches and minister of the Krasnodar congregation, was arrested on a charge of parasitism. Antonov has already twice been condemned for his faith*[1] in the past.

On 3 January 1978, Pyotr Danilovich Peters (CCE 47.//), minister of the Rostov congregation and an evangelist of the Baptist Council of Churches, was arrested.

Arrests and searches in Kazakhstan

On 6 December 1977, Baptists Andrei Vibe and Andrei Petker were arrested in Kazakhstan. They were detained when transporting religious literature in their car.

On 8 December searches were conducted in Dzhambul at the homes of seven Baptist activists. 22,000 roubles contributed by members of the church, personal religious literature and a church library including Bibles, Gospels, Concordances, books from the “Christian” publishing house, postcards of a religious nature, tapes with religious recordings and 7,000 copies of a Bible correspondence course were taken away. After the search Panfidin, Fot, Bergen and Omelich were arrested. Bergen and Omelich were later released after giving an assurance that they would not to leave the area. A criminal case has been instituted against Skornyakov, the minister of the Dzhambul church and an evangelist of the Baptist Council of Churches.

On 9 December, Pyotr Verner was arrested in the town of Dzhetysai. The religious literature kept in his home was taken away (it was from the “Christian” publishing-house.) Verner is the father of 10 children.

In Semipalatinsk on 27 December Zherebnenkov, Karman, Kreker and Yakimov, members of the Novosibirsk Baptist congregation who were transporting religious literature, were taken from a train and arrested.

* * *

On 5 November 1977 the Baptists A. Fenner and K. Gur were arrested in the village of Novoaleksandrovka, Moskalevsky district, Omsk Region. They are accused of having beaten up a young girl, a minor, for refusing to attend religious services.

* * *

In the town of Issyk, Alma-Ata Region, A. Klassen has been condemned to 2± years and Ya. Volf (CCE 47.//) to 2 years’ imprisonment for conducting religious classes with children.

* * *

On 25 November 1977 printers of the “Christian” publishing-house Larisa Zaitseva, Lyudmila Zaitseva, I. I. Leven and D. I. Koop, arrested in March 1977 (CCE 46.//), were sentenced in Kingisepp, Leningrad Region, respectively, to //31, 4, 5 and //31 years in ordinary-regime camps.

* * *

The municipal authorities of Gortovka remained unpunished after the dispersal of Baptists at the Harvest Festival (CCE 47.//), despite numerous complaints from believers.

They are continuing their “atheistic work”. Police under the command of Captain Dobrovolsky, accompanied by Sosunova, secretary of the town soviet executive committee, drive round the streets and, stopping by houses where believers live, and address the neighbours and passers-by through loudspeakers. Then they announce that there are American spies living in the house or that a radio-station transmitting slander about the Soviet Union has been found there. On Friday evenings, during the Baptists’ religious services, groups of policemen make their way onto believers’ plots of land, floodlight their yards and break into their houses.

Many believers have been fined. At enterprises where members of the congregation work, meetings are held at which other workers are set against the believers.

Captain Dobrovolsky and two other police officials conducted a search at the home of Baptist Maksimenko without presenting a warrant from the procurator.

* * *

On 15 May 1977, dissenting Baptist M. A. Boyev (Latnaya station, //Scmituki district, Voronezh Region), was celebrating his daughter’s wedding at his home. On the day of the wedding the local authorities hung up a sign by the approach to the house: “Quarantine. Passage prohibited for pedestrians and vehicles”. Then the electricity supply to the house was cut off, and as a result the orchestra that had been invited to the wedding was unable to play. Near the house gathered officials of the KGB, the district soviet executive committee and the police — altogether several dozen people.

When, to the ritual singing, the bride and groom came out into the garden, chairman of the village soviet Ivanenko began to draw up an order about the violation of public order and went about having all those present noted down. The believers and the Boyevs’ neighbours tried to explain to him that this was inappropriate. Police officials asked the people who had gathered in the garden and at the fence round the Boyevs’ house to disperse and began to talk and laugh deliberately loudly. Then a bulldozer drove up to the house and stopped with its engine still going, drowning the sermon. They began to photograph the believers. The latter in their turn began to photograph the bulldozer. It was removed. The officials tried to avoid being photographed.

* * *

The family of Baptist Vladimir Pavlovich Khailo (town of Krasny Luch, Voroshilovgrad Region) has over the course of many years been subjected to persecution by the local authorities (CCE 36.//). In letters sent to various human rights associations, members of the Khailo family have provided the following information.

After 1960 Khailo and several other Baptists from Krasny Luch did not accept the “New Statutes of the All-Union Council of Baptists” and wanted nothing to do with ministers who had become dependent on official bodies. They left the registered congregation and began to conduct religious services in the homes of believers. Articles were published in the local press saying that Khailo’s children, unlike the children of other Baptists, were intimidated: they did not participate in the social life of the school and lived a joyless life.

In 1970 Major Yegorov of the local KGB forcibly brought V. Khailo to come for a chat. Besides Khailo, a man calling himself a counter-espionage official took part in the conversation. By threats and flattery, he tried to win Khailo’s cooperation. Not succeeding in this, the “counter-espionage agent” advised Yegorov in Khailo’s presence to “besiege” his children at school.

About six months after this chat another newspaper article appeared. This time Khailo’s children were represented as hooligans, terrorising their fellow-pupils. The teachers’ attitude to them changed sharply. The eldest sons’ achievement in school deteriorated. The school several times sent them to a psychiatrist. They were said to be backward and for three years transferred from class to class without certificates. The children were frequently beaten in school by their fellow-pupils and fights took place. As a result, an administrative commission for the affairs of minors decided, against the wishes of the parents, to send Mikhail and Alexander Khailo to a special school. Alexander was taken off to the special school on 29 December 1976, having been snatched off the street. Mikhail was taken from school on 29 April 1977. In the special school the brothers were repeatedly beaten up by the other adolescents. Despite the parents’ complaints the school administration took no measures against this.

The eldest son Anatoly (b. 1955) was condemned in 1973 to 8 years in hard-regime camps (CCE 36) for taking part in a rape. Anatoly and his parents, considering the charge to be fabricated, repeatedly appealed to the authorities to review the case. The reply was that Anatoly’s guilt had been proven in court by the evidence of witnesses.

Anatoly is serving his term in a strict-regime labour camp in the town of Ivdel, Sverdlovsk Region (post office Pershino, postbox N-240-2/2 “O”; Camp head, Colonel Danilin; deputy head for security, Skitnev). They constantly demand that Anatoly renounce his beliefs and condemn his parents. In the camp Anatoly was visited by Major Yegorov and a man calling himself the deputy Procurator-General. They asked him to sign a previously prepared article about his father for a newspaper. In exchange they promised him his freedom and the opportunity of studying or of going abroad. Anatoly refused.

Anatoly has twice been put in the punishment barracks for five months and frequently sent to the punishment cell for 7 to 15 days. While A. Khailo was in the punishment barracks a search was made of his belongings in the barracks living area and a set of Gospels was taken. To a complaint by Anatoly’s parents in autumn 1977 the USSR Procuracy replied:

“…The directors of the corrective-labour establishment, who displayed formalism and a non-objective assessment of your son Anatoly, are being brought to disciplinary account, and the penalties unjustifiably imposed on him have been protested against by the Procurator to N-240, town of Ivdel.”

* * *

At present there are 15 children in the Khailo family. The seven children of school age (from seven to 16 years old) refused to go to school, after their brothers Sasha and Misha [i.e. Alexander and Mikhail] were sent to a special school: they feared that they, too, would be taken straight from their lessons to a special children’s establishment.

On 20 October 1977, V. P. Khailo and his wife were summoned to the town soviet executive committee to a combined session of the Administrative Commission for The Affairs of Minors and the Commission for Religious Affairs. Khailo was asked whether his children were going to go to school. He replied that he was not going to make any decisions for the children. The same day the Khailos sent a telegram to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, requesting permission to emigrate, since they did not accept the new [1977 Soviet] constitution and for this reason could not stay in the USSR. (The Khailo family first applied to the Soviet government with a request to emigrate in 1974.)

The town soviet executive committee submitted a case to the court, calling for the Khailos to be deprived of their rights as parents. The hearing was set for 20 December 1977, but Vladimir and Maria Khailo were unable to appear in court on that day, since they were returning from a visit to their eldest son. The case was postponed for a month.

The trial began on 20 January 1978. About 40 Baptists gathered in the courtroom (several came from other towns), and employees of the town Party committee and the KGB also came. Vladimir Khailo said he did not have confidence in the court and would not reply to questions, since he against whom in his time he had been forced to make complaints were present in the courtroom. The judge asked Maria Khailo how she was bringing up her children. She also refused to reply. After this the Khailos, followed by the other Baptists, left the courtroom. The court heard the witnesses and adjourned the session until 8 February.

On 21 January 1978 the local newspaper Red Beam printed an article about the Khailo family, “Whom does he Blame?” by V. Napadovskaya. The lengthy article says that Khailo has tormented the children with prayers; he is not allowing them to develop normally and does not let them go to school. The article also mentions Anatoly’s conviction and that (in his youth) of V. P. Khailo himself. Khailo is also accused of having split part of the Baptists off from the official sect through ambition and a thirst for gain.

On 8 February 1978, Moscow defence lawyer E. A. Reznikova spoke in court on behalf of the Khailos. She said that there was no evidence of bad behaviour towards their children on the part of the Khailos. The children would start to go to school again. The parents’ intention to emigrate could not be considered criminal. The trial was again adjourned until 27 February.

In the town soviet executive committee, the Khailos were asked to sign a prepared statement, acknowledging that they had brought up their children incorrectly and will now correct their mistakes. Khailo refused to sign and proposed his own statement, which the authorities considered unacceptable.

In court on 27 February the Khailos wrote a statement in which they promised that their children would go to school and that they would see that they were good pupils. The court decided to drop the case.

* * *

The Moscow Helsinki group (document 29) and Academician Sakharov have spoken up in defence of the Khailo family, and the Christian Committee for the Defence of Believers’ Rights in the USSR and the Council of Baptist Prisoners’ Relatives have several times appealed to the Soviet authorities. Lillian Carter, wife [in fact mother] of the US President, and congressman Andrew Major have also taken an interest in the case.