Nepochatova Marina

About the history of relations between the church and the state in Estonia in 1948–1953

Nepochatova Marina (2018) "About the history of relations between the church and the state in Estonia in 1948–1953 ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2018, vol. 81, pp. 81-90 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII201881.81-90


This article deals with a particularly diffi cult period in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in Estonia, namely the years 1948–1952. The study is based on documents of the State Archive of the Russian Federation. The article analyses relations between the Soviet state and the Orthodox Church in Estonia, where the situation was rather different from other Soviet republics. The insuffi cient number of churches was the key problem of Orthodoxy in the USSR during this period. However, this problem was not relevant to Estonia, where in the 19th century the government of the Russian Empire builtca. 100 churches. Besides, the Orthodox Church in Estonia experienced serious financial diffi culties. Most of countryside parishes, which found themselves without any financial support from Moscow Patriarchate after the October Revolution of 1917, were actually unable to function. During the years 1948–1952, the authorities intended to close down those parishes, but bishops Isidor (Bogoiavlenskii) and Roman (Tang) supported by metropolitan of Leningrad Grigory (Chukov) tried to save most of them. The collectivisation of agriculture inspired by the authorities had an obvious negative influence on Orthodox countryside parishes in Estonia. Land plots that belonged to priests were confi scated by the authorities. Offi cials of the Communist Party exerted pressure on members of rural collective farms (kolkhoz) to prevent farmers from going to church. At the same time, the functionaries of Estonia were loyal to Lutheran Church and its pastors. Besides, during the years 1948–1952 several Orthodox priests were arrested in Estonia. The anti-religious propaganda was actively implemented by the authorities. As a consequence, some cases of vandalism against Orthodox churches occurred. At the same time, a signifi cant number of people moved by Soviet authorities from other regions of the USSR to Estonia in order to increase its economic potential resulted in increasing the number of Orthodox parishioners in the main cities of the republic. The bishops managed to sustain the greater part of the parishes in Estonia, the most signifi cant churches, cathedrals and the monastery despite aggressive antireligious policy conducted by Soviet authorities in the country in general and in Estonia in particular.


Orthodoxy in Estonia, history of Orthodoxy in Estonia, metropolitan Isidor (Bogoyavlenskii), archbishop Roman (Tang), metropolitan Grigory (Chukov), Orthodox parishes of Estonia, Estonian Orthodox Church, relations between state and church in USSR


  1. Alexij (Ridiger), Patriarkh, Pravoslavije v Estonii, Moscow, 1999.
  2. Zaretskij V., “Dukhovenstvo i cerkovnij e truzheniki repressirovannie v godi sovetskoy vlasti v Estonii”, in: Мir Pravoslaviya, 8 (161), 2011. URL: http://www.baltwillinfo.com/mp2011-08/mp-14.html (17.11.2017).
  3. Myannik S., “Arhiepiskop Pavel (Dmitrovskii)”, in: Pravoslavie v Baltii, 2 (11), 2014, 81–93.
  4. Prekup I., prot., Pravoslavie v Estonii, Tallin, 1998.
  5. Petrov I., Pravoslavnaya Baltiya 1939–1952 gg. Period voin, repressii I mezhnatsionalnih protivorechii, St. Petersburg, 2016.
  6. “Pisma Patriarkha Aleksija I v Soviet po delam Russkoj pravoslavnoj cerkvi kak istochnik po istorii vzaimootnoshenii sovetskogo gosudarstva I Tserkvi”, in: N. A. Krivova, red., U. G. Orlova, publ., sost. Pisma Patriarkha Aleksija I v Soviet po delam Russkoj pravoslavnoj cerkvi pri Soviete narodnykh komissarov — Sovete ministrov SSSR. 1945–1970, Moscow, 2009

Information about the author

Nepochatova Marina

Student status: Graduate student;
Place of study: St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University for the Humanities; 6/1 Likhov pereulok, Moscow, 127051, Russian Federation;
Email: m.nepochatova@mail.ru.