Introduction by The Saker: Today I have decided to post a short article by Professor Ivan Andreev (see his interesting biography here) describing how the Russian Orthodox Church also had to ascend to Her own Golgotha when the Bolshevik theomachs took power in 1917. It is important to keep in mind that this text was written in 1947, already 71 years ago, and that what Professor Andreev describes are events which he witnessed before WWII. The situation in Russia today is dramatically different, yet the full implications of the “crucifixion” of the Russian Orthodox Church by the Soviet regime have not been widely understood in Russia, even by pious Orthodox Christians. My point today is not to discuss these implications (although they are tremendous) but simply to bring back to our collective awareness the events which I believe should never be forgotten. I will conclude this short introduction by saying that the Greek word “martyr” means witness (just as the Arabic “shahid”, by the way) and that the Church of Christ was always built by, and on, the blood of martyrs (Christ Himself being the first one). Every time a Christian makes the sign of the cross he voluntarily places upon his body a symbolic cross whose prototype is the Cross on the Golgotha. Many today would rather forget about the martyrdom of the Russian Orthodox Church in the 20th century. I refuse to do so. However, since this topic is bound to trigger some outraged “gnashing of teeth” by quite a few people, and out of respect for this day and the martyrs described in this text, I have decided not to allow comments under this post.
During his short career as Pontiff of the Russian Orthodox Church (1918-1925), the holy patriarch Tikhon sailed the ship of the Church through a raging sea of horrific events with uncommon courage.
In order to lessen the incredible suffering of the clergy and lay people who were being persecuted by the godless government, he made a whole series of concessions and compromises. The Soviet government was not satisfied with these concessions and demanded that the Church be spiritually enslaved by the state. In response, the holy patriarch stopped all compromise, for which he was arrested; he died shortly afterwards in 1925, having apparently been poisoned.
After the death of the holy patriarch, three remarkable directives that forced the basis of the true way of the Russian Orthodox Church remained in force.
The first dealt with the essence of the Soviet government, which the holy patriarch Tikhon characterised as the rule of the antichrist and thus anathema. Soviet power had been execrated by the holy patriarch.
The second directive was his dying appeal to all Orthodox Russians in Russia: “I call you, beloved children of the Orthodox Church, I call you to come suffer with me!”.
The third directive was related to all Orthodox Russians “in dispersion over the world”. In special Order no.362 of 7/20 November, all Orthodox outside of the USSR were called upon to unite and create a Higher Ecclesiastical Administrative Centre. Under the management of this Centre, all Orthodox Russians abroad would live in detachment from the Russian Mother-Church until peace and order had been restored to Her.
In accordance with this Order, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was formed under the leadership of the Russian Foreign Council and Synod. Its representative after the death of His Eminence metropolitan Antonius and up to current times remains His Eminence metropolitan Anastasiy. This Church is the only mystically, canonically, and historically true Russian Orthodox Church outside of the USSR.
The enemy of the human race, the great traducer, liar, and killer of men, the devil, hurled himself with full force against the Russian Orthodox Church, wishing to destroy and enslave Her.
Outside of the USSR there begun disorders, divisions, and splits, but the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, loyal to the commandments and orders of the holy patriarch Tikhon and under the command of the Russian Archdiocese Synod Abroad remained the undefiled Bride of Christ, and this is why, in accordance with the infallible promise of the Saviour Himself, it remains unconquerable by hell itself!
If the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was rich in heavy, dramatic events, then the life of the Russian Orthodox Church in the USSR was truly a tragedy!
After the death of the holy patriarch Tikhon, metropolitan Piotr Krutitsky became locum tenens. He was an unshakable “rock” and fearless martyr for the purity of the Christian faith. No temptations, no threats, no excruciations and tortures could cause the great martyr, the Pontiff of the Russian Orthodox Church to waver. His name shall forever be part of the history of the Russian Church alongside the names of metropolitan Fillip and patriarch Hermogenes .
Arrested, exiled, tortured with incredible methods and excruciated to death, metropolitan Piotr did not waver and did not sign the Declaration that the Soviet government demanded from him.
His last order was a directive that his name should continue to ascend in the liturgy of the entire Orthodox world as a symbol of the unity of the Russian Church until his passing was confirmed, even despite the rumours of his death (see the testimony of bishop Damascene, vicar of Chernigov).
After the arrest of the locum tenens, in 1926 the replacement of the locum tenens became metropolitan Sergius Nizhegorodskiy.
In 1927, metropolitan Sergius betrayed the commandments of patriarch Tikhon and metropolitan Piotr and signed his famous Declaration, in which he called upon the Orthodox faithful to “rejoice” in the mirth of the theopic government and show this accursed state of the antichrist general gratitude “for taking notice of the needs of the Orthodox population”.
As they remembered the incredible persecutions against the Orthodox Church, the martyr’s death of metropolitan Veniamin and “those like him”, the arrest and death of the holy patriarch Tikhon, the exile and suffering of metropolitan Piotr, the destruction of churches and monasteries, the blasphemy against relics, the ban on bell ringing, the establishment of “Komsomol Easter” , the custody of many hundreds of bishops (more than 200 bishops languished in concentration camps in 1927), tens of thousands of priests and monks, millions of faithful Christians, condemned for matters related to the Church, the true Orthodox faithful could not accept the Declaration of metropolitan Sergius: the Church schism of 1927 took place.
At the head of the true Orthodox who remained loyal to the holy patriarch Tikhon, who had anathemised the Soviet governments and called up the loyal children of the Orthodox Church to be martyred, and to metropolitan Peter, who was exiled to suffering because he did not agree to sign the Declaration that was signed by metropolitan Sergei came to be the metropolitan of Petrograd, Joseph.
Those who were loyal to metropolitan Sergei began to be called “Sergianites”, and the followers of metropolitan Joseph were known as “Josephites”.
Approval for the position of metropolitan Joseph was obtained from the exiled metropolitan Piotr of Krutitsk and metropolitan Kirill of Kazan.
The “Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood” (at the location of the murder of emperor Aleksandr II) becomes the centre of true Orthodoxy in Petrograd in the years 1928-1929. Mitrophic archpriest father Vasily Verjuzhsky was the abbot of this temple. Apart from this church, the “Josephites” had several other churches in Petrograd and the surrounding area: the Petrograd Church of saint Nicholas the Wonder-Worker, which was located at a getaway for elderly artists on the Petrovsky Island (archpriest father Viktor Dobronravov was the abbot of this temple); the Church of the Tikhvin Mother of God in Lesnoye (headed by archpriest father Aleksandr Sovetov), the Church in “Strelnya” (headed by father Izmail) and several others. Along with father Vasily Verjuzhsky, exceptional preachers held sermons in the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood: archpriest father Fyodor Konstantinovich Andreev (a friend of father Pavel Florensky) who was a former professor of the Moscow Spiritual Academy, and archpriest father Sergei Tikhomirov. Father Fyodor was the confessor of many academics from the Academy of Sciences and professors of the University of Petrograd.
In 1929, father Fyodor (professor Andreev), after having endured torturous questioning in several prisons, was released to “die at home”. The funeral proceedings of this remarkable preacher took on a grand and demonstrative character. “Petersburg had not seen such a collection of people since the burial of Dostoyevsky”, – professor A. I. Brilliantov wrote to a friend.
Around 1930, all “Josephite” churches had been closed, with the exception of one (The Tikhvin Mother of God in Lesnoye). All of the most famous “Josephites” were shot in 1930: bishop Maksim, archpriest Nikolai Prozorov, archpriest Sergei Tikhomirov, archpriest Aleksandr Kremyshansky, priest Sergei Alekseev and many others. Archbishop Dmitriy (Gdovsky) was sentenced to ten years in a political prison in Yaroslavl, which was also the place he was to die in.
Metropolitan Joseph, bishop Sergius of Navra, and a multitude of clergy and laymen were sent to concentration camps. Many laymen were arrested and exiled just for the fact that they visited the one “Josephite” church in Lesnoye. In 1936 this church too was closed.
As far back as 1928 separate, secret services began to be held in houses throughout Petrograd. After 1930, the number of these secret services significantly rose. And from 1937 onwards, we can consider the Catacomb Church to have been fully formed. In the rest of Russia (especially in Siberia), catacomb churches had been formed somewhat earlier. There were not enough catacomb services in Moscow, and many Muscovites sought nourishment in Petrograd. The catacomb churches did not have an administrative centre or clear hierarchy. Metropolitans Kirill and Joseph were seen as the church’s spiritual leaders. Piotr Krutitsky was recognised as the rightful locum tenens of the patriarchy, and this title switched to metropolitan Joseph after the former’s death. From 1929 to 1930 secret consecrations were held in the Solovetsky concentration camp, where several “Josephite” bishops were held (Maksim of Serpukhov, Viktor vicar of Vyatka, Hilarion vicar of Smolensk, and Nectarius of Trezvinsk) . Secret bishops and an immense number of hidden priests appeared. I personally know only of the Petrograd region and secret catacomb services that were held in it between 1937 and 1941. Later, between 1942 to 1945 I was to meet participants of catacomb services (from different places in Russia): I have no information after 1945.
There was an extraordinarily large number of catacomb services between 1937 and 1941 in Petrograd and the local area. Where weren’t these services held? In the apartments of several academics (professors from the Military-Medical Academy and the University of Petrograd), in the building of the naval technical college, in the submarine school, in the adult school for water transportation, in hospitals, and in several institutions with a limited entry. Secret services were held very intensely in the suburbs of Petrograd and towns that were farther away: in Shuvalovo, Ozerki, the village of Jukki near Levashevo, the Popovka train station, Kolpino, Sablino, Chudovo, Malaya Vishera, Okulovka, the Oksochi station (in the Ushinski children’s camp), in Gatchina (in the apartment of the caretakers of the famous ascetic mother Mariya), in Elizavetino, Volosovo, Oranienbaum, Martyshinko, Strelnya (where the famous priest father Izmail was ordained) and in many other places.
The persecution of the Catacomb Church, which metropolitan Sergius had named “counterrevolutionary” and its flock “political criminals” (thereby betraying it to the tortures of a godless government) was unusually harsh.
An especially great number of churchgoers were arrested and tortured to death in 1937 and 1938, during the so-called “time of Yezhov” .
This is why from 1939 onwards the Catacomb Churches started to become extraordinarily guarded, and it became very difficult to reach them. But those who honestly sought found what they were looking for. Also, if the number of secret catacomb services strongly declined in 1939, their spiritual quality significantly rose. These truly were new, primordially Christian times: the legend over the hidden city of Kitezh was becoming a reality!  As I heard later, during the war (especially after Sergius became the Soviet patriarch) catacomb services, despite the harshest persecution, once again took off, for true Orthodox believers could not be reconciled with the total spiritual enslavement of the Orthodox Church to the accursed regime of the antichrist. Under patriarch Aleksei (Simansky), the persecutions gained more strength, for there are now no more justifications for those who do not visit open churches and take part in secret services at home! “Members of the Catacomb Churches were numbered among the heaviest of political criminals!”. But “numbered among the crooks” was even the Saviour Himself!
It is now clear why I must protect and hide the names of the flock of the Catacomb Church, especially the names of bishops and priests. I would like to tell so much about the work of father Aleksei, father Georgy, father Aleksandr, father Piotr, father Vladimir and many others who are well known to the true Orthodox of the Petrograd region. But the time is not yet here! After all, they might be alive and secretly holding services to this very day! And the smallest detail that could give them away threatens deadly torture to them and their families. And they are not waiting for human glory. They, those many male and female martyrs (for there were many nuns among the active members of the Catacomb Churches) lay down their souls for their friends, thereby fulfilling Christ’s commandment about supreme love.
Here, abroad, one sometimes encounters persons who acknowledge the merits of the Catacomb Church while at the same time recognising the truth of the “Sergianite Church”. They need to know that in the USSR their position would be strongly rejected by both sides. After all, if patriarch Sergius and patriarch Aleksei banned the servants of the “Josephite” Church from holding services and named the “political criminals”, the latter, in turn, forbade the faithful from going to open Soviet churches.
In general, the Russian Orthodox population of the USSR can be divided into the following groups:
The first is a group of staunch and true Orthodox, who live a predominantly spiritual life and serve the interests of the Church as Body of Christ. This group never in any way acknowledged nor does it acknowledge the Soviet patriarchy. All its members went into the catacombs.
The second group consists of weakly religious people who by virtue of traditional inertia continue to lukewarmly believe in God or are at least aesthetically drawn to Orthodox services. They are not well-versed in the particulars of the ecclesiastical spirit. They only notice the “clothing” of the Church, which by itself had not changed at all. They eagerly go to churches that were opened by the godless Soviet government, which has decided to allow small doses of “opium for the people”.
The third group is made up of “diplomats”, rationalists who live for the interests of the Church as an organisation (and not as an organ of the Holy Spirit). They justify the ecclesiastical policy of both Sergius and Aleksei, which according to them is saving the Church. They eagerly visit Soviet churches, all the while not noticing that at as it is currently organised the Church has lost its most important component: the spirit of Christ.
The fourth group consists of those who excruciatingly painfully accept the 1927 Declaration of metropolitan Sergius, as well as all further words and deeds of the Soviet patriarchs but think that the grace of the Orthodox Church has still been safeguarded because of those millions of Russian unfortunates who take great consolation in the Church. While listening to the Soviet Church’s panegyrics on the godless state, they continue to visit the open churches and pray under miraculous icons with tears in their eyes. They are spiritual people who have not yet reached a spiritual understanding of religion. They see spiritual solace as gracious religious mystery.
The fifth group is formed by those who have not had a personal conversation with the patriarchs and metropolitans of the Soviet Church, and as a result are uninformed about the essence of that Church. The majority of these people, knowing that a series of different declarations were published in the USSR behind their backs and signed with their apparent approval, naively think that everything that has been said by patriarch Sergius or patriarch Aleksei, or anything that has been published in the official Church press is just a lie created by the Soviet government. Therefore, although they do not personally fault the patriarchs and metropolitans of the Soviet Church, but at the same time not allowing their hearts to acknowledge that the realm of the antichrist is speaking in their name, this group leaves for the catacombs, but continues to commemorate the names of the Church pontiffs in the secret liturgies. But those who have had the opportunity to personally speak with the representatives of the highest ranks of the Soviet Church know, that the latter are voluntarily and consciously identifying themselves with the Soviet government and are honestly defending the unnatural friendship of the Church of Christ with the realm of the antichrist.
It is totally impossible to even approximately determine the percentage of believers who have left for the catacombs. One thing can be said: the best of the millions have left! Because it does not have the capabilities to root out and destroy them all, they Soviet government has started to deny the presence of the Catacomb Church and to call it a myth.
If there exists a “myth about Christ” written by the pastor professor Arthur Drews , a “myth about the Catacomb Church in the USSR” is also possible. I have personally visited the Catacomb Church from 1937 to 1941. Later, I met persons who had visited it from 1942 to 1945. All that time, the spiritual sentiment in the Church remained high and pure.
1937, December. After the concentration camp I do not have the right to reside in the capital and live 200 kilometres from Petrograd (we only name the city of Saint Peter Leningrad in official situations).
There is not one church in a radius of more than 100 kilometres from where I live. There are only two churches in Petrograd: the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral (near the Marinsky Theatre) and the Church of Prince Vladimir (near the Tuchkov Bridge). Both of them are Sergianite churches. Me and my many friends have not gone to Sergianite temples from the end of 1927, i.e. 10 years already. I secretly go to Petrograd and visit an acquaintance. A secret nun visits her. She takes me to a secret service of the Catacomb Church. I do not ask her anything and do not inquire where we are going. I deliberately do not want to know, so that if (God forbid) I am later arrested, I cannot be made to give up any details, even under torture.
Late in the evening. It’s dark. We board a train at one of the stations. An hour passes. We exit at a small half-station and walk 2-3 kilometres in the darkness. We arrive at some village. We go to the first house at the village’s edge. It’s nearly night. Darkness. Silence. A soft knock on the door. The door opens, and we enter the hut. We go into a clean room. The windows are covered with heavy curtains. There are a couple of old paintings in the corner. Icon-lamps are burning in front of them. There are about fifteen people, more women headscarves than men, of which there are three of middle age: there are some children aged 12-14. The priest is an acquaintance. He was once a teacher in the high school that I went to. He remembers me from when I was a little boy. The priest meets me cordially, blesses me, kisses me. “We’ll begin now!” – he says while putting on his vestments. -— “And you can write some prescriptions for medicinal Vaseline”, – he says while turning to me. He knows that I am a doctor. – “you can still get that stuff in pharmacies with a prescription. There isn’t anything else. The Lord will forgive you. And it’s good for the icon-lamps…”
I write prescriptions for nearly all present, warning them not the by the Vaseline at the same day and at the same pharmacy.
Vespers begins. People sing and speak at a whisper. Many have tears of tenderness in their eyes. Praying is easy!… Nothing disturbs you, nothing distracts you. Never and nowhere else have I so deeply and clearly experienced the demands of saint John Climacus : “seal your mind in the words of the prayer!”
I do not know anyone except for the priest. But they are all family, more than family!… They all have such pure, such bright, such warm and welcoming eyes, such spirited faces!..
It is impossible for me to transmit through words what I experienced at that vigil. After the service had ended, I drank a cup of tea with bread. As I left, I kissed everyone present three times… It is the end of the night. Me and the nun calmly go back. My heart is calm and focussed. We board the train that will take us to Petrograd. I go to another station and ride the train home to work…
1938, the second nightmarish year of “Yezhov’s reign”… I am arrested not long before Easter. I stood in the “doghouse” for 4 days. That’s what they call the standing room, because it is impossible to sit there, the space is too cramped. They occasionally call us up for interrogation. Some return quickly, others linger, which is all the more nerve-wracking for them. After all, they will sign anything that has been drafted before. The only difference is that they will be beaten and tortured. I am finally called up. I go and pray: “Lord, be merciful, save me, and keep me safe!” I had never prayed so strongly before, because I knew that I could not have any trust in the human. I prayed with my eyes closed, with all of my soul, all of my mind, all of my heart: “Lord, free me!” I clearly felt that God was near, to the right of me, that he heard everything, knew everything, understood everything, could do everything!… “Lord, free me, through the prayers of all of Your martyrs through all of Russia! Through prayers from all over the Russian land, secret prayers, through those of Your servants who are praying to You in the catacombs with whispers and tears!… Lord, free me! Lord, free me, so that when I am free I can tell others about what is happening in Russia right now!…”
The Lord heard my prayer. A wonder took place! It is difficult for me to say how everything turned out, it is difficult for me to relay and hard for me to believe what happened!..
The NKVD unit of my province. I am sitting on a stool in a large room. The walls are made of plywood. I hear everything that is said behind the wall.
“You idiot!” — the commander yells at the investigator (the investigators are mainly boys between 16 and 18 years old, so-called “trainees”; because of the immense numbers of detainees, there is a shortage of real investigators). — “What article did you bring him in on?”— “59”. — “What does that article deal with?” — “Banditry!” — “Well, and who did you interrogate?”… — “But he confessed and signed the document!..” — “Oh, you idiot, that’s not what I’m asking you about… At this point in time, even a dead man will sign the document!… This isn’t about a signature… And answer me, who is that old coot, a sectarian?”— “Yes, a Tolstoyan!” — “Well, there you go! Did you know that those Tolstoyans don’t even wear boots, that they walk around in galoshes, and that they sleep without pillows… Why? To not use animal skin or chicken feathers… they think that killing a fly is a sin… And you hit him with banditry! Go and write down 58” (art. 58 par. 10 of the USSR Criminal Code is applied against agitators against the Soviet government)… — “They’re not stupid in Moscow “, — the commander continued to grumble, — “the document will make go to Moscow! Go and correct it!..” — “Comrade commander!” — says another voice, a shy one, — “I don’t fully understand this either. I questioned an Old Believer. Could you explain to me what a “reader” is, is that a rank or something?… Or this – “Bezpopovtsy” , what does that mean?” — “The devil knows what that means”, — the commander interrupts… — “Comrade commander”, — a third quiet voice says, — “they brought in some kind of sectarian doctor for questioning, he probably knows all this and can explain!..” — “Well, call him then!”
And they called me…
— “What sect are you a member of?” — “None!” — “Why don’t you go to church?” — “I pray at home!” — “Well, do you know something about sects?”— “I do”.
And here I am, an expert and consultant on several matters relating to the raskol. As a result, I am suddenly set free – why? How? It is true that I was absolutely innocent, except for my being a practicing Orthodox Christian who for some reason did not visit Soviet churches.
I had recently been released from a concentration camp and remembered the friendly advice from one commander well: “Well, doctor, now you’re free, work like you want an A+, and we (i.e. the NKVD) will give you a C-. Every mistake of yours will be a crime”.
This is how I worked, always for an A+; I was the eternal “shock-worker” , the eternal “excellent pupil”…
I was not guilty of anything, and they released me! This was an incredible miracle under the conditions of the USSR.
I was released during Holy Week. On Holy Saturday I managed to secretly go to Petrograd with my five-year-old daughter. Matins were held in one of the rooms of a large government institution, the entrance to which required special passes. I and my young daughter received such passes.
We entered into a clean and comfortable room. There were up to thirty people there. Several of them turned out to be acquaintances. The elderly priest father Georgy led the sermon. It is impossible for me to forget these matins.
“Christ is Risen” was sung quietly and happily. It seemed as if instead of human beings, angels were singing!… My daughter stood holding a candle, and she shone like a candle herself. I had never before in my life seen eyes that were happier, more joyful than hers.
Did this truly happen? Was this not a golden dream? I cannot, I dare not say in words what had taken place… The heavens had descended to earth and people had become like angels! A sea of love!
We embrace each other,
We forgive each other;
The name of Christ
We hold within us!
The joy that I received from those bright matins in the Catacomb Church to this very day gives me the strength to live after losing everything: my family, my fatherland, my happiness, my scientific career, my friends, and my health!…
: Saint Philip the Second of Moscow (1507 – 1569) was metropolitan of Moscow during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. He was one of the very few churchmen who openly dared to confront the Tsar and was probably murdered for his vocal opposition against the oprichnina. Saint Hermogenes of Moscow (somewhere before 1530 – 1612) was Patriarch from 1606 onwards. He ignited the popular rebellion that dethroned the pretender Tsar Dmitri I.
: “Komsomol Easter” was a crude holiday instated by the Soviet government to replace the traditional Russian Easter. Celebrations included large-scale public spectacles and mob attacks on the Orthodox faithful.
: Maksim (Zhizhilenko) (1885 – 1931) was one of the foremost representatives of the Josephites. From 1928 onwards, he became bishop of the city of Serpukhov. In 1929, he was sent to the Solovetsky concentration camp, where he served as both doctor and priest to his fellow inmates. He was eventually sent to the infamous Butyrka prison in Moscow, where he was tortured. He died in 1931; ROCOR includes him in its list of neomartyrs. Viktor (Ostrovidov) (1875 – 1934) was a Josephite vicar of the city of Vyatka. He endured many persecutions from the Bolshevik government and died in exile in the Komi Republic. Hilarion (Belsky) (1893 – 1937) was vicar of Smolensk and from 1928 onwards a warrior for the Josephite cause. He spent the last six years of his life in exile and was killed by the Soviet government in 1937. Nektarius (Trezvinsky) (1889 – 1937) served in Petrograd and Vyatka. From 1925 onwards, he spent his life in internal exile. He was executed by a kangaroo court in 1937. These four men form the “hard core” of the Josephite movement and are among the greatest neomartyrs of the Orthodox Church.
: The Time of Yezhov (Ежовщина) refers to the period when the NKVD was dominated by Nikolai Yezhov (1895 – 1940). He was known as the “poison dwarf” for his short stature and extreme cruelty and was chosen by Stalin to oversee the worst of the Great Purge of 1937. Yezhov is responsible for the deaths of around 150.000 people in the Gulag and 681.692 summary executions. He eventually lost Stalin’s favour and was executed in 1940.
: The city of Kitezh is a settlement allegedly constructed by Georgy II, Grand Prince Vladimir somewhere in the 13thcentury. When the Mongols invaded Russia, the citizens of the city prayed ardently to the Lord for salvation, which was granted in the form of the town becoming submerged under a lake. The most faithful can find a secret path leading to the city, and some say that singing and the chiming of bells can be heard when near Lake Svetloyar (its apparent resting place). It is a popular subject of Russian folklore (Christian or otherwise).
: Arthur Drews (1865 – 1935) was a German writer and philosopher. He was a representative of the German school of monism, which agitated for the creation of a uniquely German religion based on the works of philosophers and poets. He is most (in)famous for his work The Christ Myth (Die Christusmythe, 1909) which states that Jesus Christ was originally a deity that was later humanised.
: Saint John Climacus, also known as Saint John of the Ladder was a Byzantine monk of the 6th and 7th centuries. He is most famous for his Ladder of Divine Ascent, which became one of the most popular spiritual works of Eastern Orthodoxy.
: The bezpopovtsy (безпоповцы) are one of the variants of the Old Believer faith. The various groups that compose it hold that all priests have become corrupted by the taint of the antichrist. The bezpopovtsy thus reject any official hierarchies and live without a formal priesthood.
: “Shock-worker” (ударник) was an honorary title conferred on the most productive Soviet workers. It guaranteed better accommodations and rations for the title holder.
Translation and notes by Edvin Buday. Sourse - Eshatologia
Source: Russian Faith