The Science Work
Site is for sale:
Category: History

Policy of the Russian Empire in relation to Old Belief in the North Caucasus in the second half of the 19th century



© 2011 F.M. Kuliyev

Pyatigorsk branch Pyatigorsk Branch of North Caucasian

North Caucasian academy of public service, Academy of State Service,

Fevralskaya St., 54, Pyatigorsk, 357528 Fevralskaya St., 54, Pyatigorsk, 357528

The questions connected with the state and confessional relations are considered. Importance of these scientific and practical tasks is explained by the growing variety of religious associations, close connection of religious and national problems. Without a religious factor it is deeply impossible to learn and expect many complex socio-political problems in the North Caucasus. Emergence, development, activity of Old Believers in the North Caucasus in the second half of the 19th century, their relationship with the government and Russian Orthodox Church, a role of Old Belief community in life of the North Caucasian region are investigated.

Investigation of guestions connected with state-confessional relations is one of the most important scientific and practical tasks. This can be explained by growing variety of religious unions, firm connection of religious and national problems. Without taking into account of the religious factor it is impossible to deeply get to know and foresee many complicated social and political processes in the Northern Caucasus. In the article the author shaws the origin, developtment, activity of the Old Belivers in the North Caucasus in the 2 half of the XIX century. The author dwells on the process of their relations with State Power and the Russian Orthodox Church, role of the Old Belivers in the life of the North Caucasian Region is observed.

The North Caucasus always differed in a variety of religious faiths. But mainly traditional religions - Orthodoxy, Islam, the Buddhism are investigated. The Old Belief is among the poorly studied religious directions.

Old Belief (or starovery) - the general name of the Russian orthodox clergy and the laymen who refused to accept the reform undertaken in the 17th century by the patriarch Nikon, and seeking to maintain church establishments and traditions of the old Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The secular and church authorities persistently fought against split as religious, and according to the government, also political threat. Prosecutions of Old Believers to which the government repeatedly resorted were carried out by Church, and it was a part of its internal missionary activity. As split in the majority was schism, but not heresy, efforts of Church were directed to return of skhizmatik to Orthodoxy. It should be noted that the mission among Old Believers which was conducted by the Russian church with assistance of the state throughout XVIII - the beginning of the 20th century with different degree of intensity did not result in considerable results [1]. In general the concept "Old Belief" rather conditionally unites the religious organizations which are not consisting in a unification therefore inevitably has not quite exact character. Since the beginning of nikonovsky reform and to

the beginnings of the 20th century accessory of the person to a staroveriya was the basis for prosecutions. From the moment of split emergence the government of the Russian Empire constantly took measures against distribution of Old Belief and to joining of Old Believers to the dominating church.

In other words the legislation had repressive character practically prior to the beginning of the 20th century. The practice of self-immolation and other forms of self-destruction of the radical adherents of an old ceremony wishing to avoid violent accession to official church which extended at the end of the XVII-XVIII century turned out to be consequence of repressions. In realization of the class and religious rights the Old Believers used "immeasurably smaller freedom, than any inoverny religious group (Muslims, Buddhists, Jews), not excepting pagans... owing to a lack of tolerance to their religious life" [2]. Any public evidence of belief whereas it was not forbidden to foreigners was forbidden Old Believers. Old Believers were deprived of the right of a legal church marriage whereas to "each tribe and the people", not excepting pagans, it was allowed to marry by rules of their religion or on the accepted customs, without participation of representatives of temporal power. Old Believers should not have had the special sacred images and icons, and their entry into icon-painting shops could

to be carried out only with the permission of the Minister of Internal Affairs. The Old Belief communities, unlike "foreign" Christian religions, had also no right of reception of persons of the not orthodox confessions which are voluntarily joining "split" [3].

In multinational Russia though was ROC "dominating and taking priority", however its influence did not extend to tens of millions professing Catholicism, Protestantism, Moslem, Judaism and also "disappeared from Orthodoxy" of Old Believers of different rumors and sectarians. According to annual reports of the Synod, in 1840 the orthodox population in Russia contained 44 million people, in 1860-52 million, in 1890 - 72.1 million [4]. Its specific weight in the specified years was about 70 - 80%. Exact data on the number of persons of various religions are received by the All-Russian population census of 1897. From 125.7 million people of both sexes (without Finland) it appeared: Orthodox Christians 87,384,480 (about 70% to all population), Old Believers - 2,173,738 (the brothers in faith ranked as the orthodox population), Catholics - 10,420,927, Protestants-3,743,200, other Christian confessions (representatives of various sects) - 1,121,516, Muslims-13,829,421, Jews - 5,189,404, pagans - 655,503 [4, page 225 did not enter here].

In the middle of the 19th century P.I. Melnikov-Pechersky's efforts as the government official who was engaged in "fight against split" made the first more or less reliable calculation of conservatives: in 1859 their number reached 8.5 - 9.3 million people, i.e. 10% of all population of Russia, or its 1/6 orthodox population of that time [5].

In the 60th of the 19th century persecutions to what Old Believers at Nicholas I were exposed stopped. In 1864 the Committee on "dissenting affairs" was founded. Developed by it and approved in 1875. "Rules" legalized a considerable part of Old Belief rumors which were granted the right to send the church service and also to go abroad. To Old Believers was permitted to be engaged in painting of icons (for the needs), to establish the schools of literacy, to occupy some public (but not state) positions. But these rights did not extend to the Old Belief rumors recognized "harmful" (for example, on switches, skopts, "runners") and also to sects of dukhobor, Molokans, community work days, etc., not recognizing not only church, but also temporal power with its establishments.

In the 80th quite flexible policy in relation to Old Belief was pursued. In 1883 the law "About Old Believers and Measures against Distribution of Ratsionalistsky Sects" was adopted. It in relation to Old Belief confirmed the resolution of 1875 and even provided some new eases: to open new prayful buildings, but with the permission of the chief prosecutor of the Synod and the Minister of Internal Affairs; to be engaged in the industry and trade; to receive passports in accordance with general practice.

It is necessary to consider that Old Believers could fully use not all presented rights and freedoms, many of them were nullified by in addition published orders and as a result - an administrative arbitrariness.

Despite preservation listed in the law

1883 of a number of former restrictions, it nevertheless favored to revival of activity of Old Belief what with alarm the church press wrote about. So, in
1884 in "Church bulletin" it was reported: "In general now Old Believers feel very well and behave very safely - construct chapels, arrange altars, their bottoms walk in long hair and almost in the same clothes what is worn by orthodox priests, dispatch special missionaries for seduction of Orthodox Christians in split, without being afraid of responsibility for seduction at all" [4, page 227].

Church and temporal powers with alarm noted further distribution of "split" in the 80th. In the decision of hierarchal cathedral which took place in July

1885 in Kazan especially for development of measures of fight against split distribution, it was said: "Split exists in all dioceses entrusted to us and prirozhdatsya easily to orthodox children, and therefore our very vicarial rank we esteem for ourselves obliged to put in return works it to doctoring" [4, page 227]. The cathedral demanded to pay special attention to training of the orthodox priests qualified in fight against split read who had necessary knowledge and polemic experience in a dispute with dissenters. Priests were recommended to execute services in churches with special solemnity, attracting believers with "greatness of an orthodox church service", to say "thoughtful sermons to show wisdom of orthodox religion". It was supposed that the church service solemn in due form has to distract believers from feeble efforts in split.

Dissenters in the North Caucasus appeared with Cossack immigrants at the end of the 18th century. For the 19th century the ROC was faced by the following tasks: on the one hand, a sermon of Christianity among pagan mountaineers, and with another - work on return a bosom of ROC of Cossack immigrants. This task was still important because Cossacks were defenders of the southern boundaries of the Russian Empire.

Owing to interest of the Russian government in settling of the Caucasian lands by Cossacks of ROC it was necessary not only to work among Old Believers, but also to care for preservation of the peace relations between them and supporters of ROC. But between dissenters often there were contradictions as they were divided into three consents: belopo-povets, bespopovets and consent of the Austrian priesthood.

Due to the distribution of split in the North Caucasus the authorities began to take various measures for their eradication. For example, in the Stavropol guber-

the scientific research institute conducted missionary activity. From 1893 to 1919. Lord Agafodor was at the head of the Stavropol diocese. Its appointment to the Stavropol department was caused by need of strengthening of fight against sectarianism and Old Belief. Also the need and for carrying out missionary work among the Muslim mountaineers living in a mountain part of Stavropol Territory was considered. In a year of appointment of the lord Agafo-dor to the Stavropol department the Kuban region (1 million 925 thousand inhabitants) and the Stavropol province (875 thousand) were a part of the diocese. On religion, except Orthodox Christians, Armenians-grigorian, Catholics, Protestants and Lutherans, the area was inhabited by over 43 thousand Muslim mountaineers, to 13 thousand Buddhists-lamaistov, up to 40 thousand sectarians and Old Believers [6]. Since 1872 the Old Believers had even in the diocese of the bishop Siluan belonging to the Austrian hierarchy.

The Stavropol diocese provided to Agafodor the extensive field for missionary activity. Positions of two missionaries - one against sectarians, another - against Old Believers were entered into dioceses. For the purpose of weakening of promotion of Old Belief and sectarianism in deaneries the district missionaries who existed till 1908 when in the diocese positions of five district missionaries were founded were elected. Lord Agafodor obliged diocesan clergy in Sunday and holidays after the vespers to conduct religious and moral extra liturgical interviews in temples for maintenance among flock of piety and for protection it from religious delusions. Conversations with sectarians in a collective meeting of missionaries became the large innovation entered by it. In 1904 the diocesan missionary, three district missionaries, two parsons participated in a missionary interview, on the one hand, and with another - Old Believers, dukhobor, Molokans and switches were interlocutors. These conversations lifted religious feelings of supporters of ROC and at the same time assisted the statement of the shaken persons in its bosom.

For 1895 decent Pavel Bartenev of the 2nd (Pyatigorsk) deanery of the lake writes in the report: "Conditions of the Caucasian settlements in recent past time, for the aggressive purposes demanded people strong and enterprising, able to rise face to face with aggressive native savages. At the same time on religion of alien conquerors the attention addressed a little. Therefore dissenters received such freedom what is possible only outside the state Russian in the Caucasus. And now dissenters use almost same freedom. It is in this regard difficult to limit them" [7]. By 1895 in arrivals of the 2nd deanery there were 3381 dissenters. Most of all Old Believers were in St. Yessentuki — 2508 people and in St. Kislovodsk — 796, and in other villages and the cities their number was insignificant [8]. And though during a sermon and on a confession the priest explained that he without the union with Pra-

voslavny church edinovery remains to

split, situation especially did not change, and most of Old Believers did not hurry in Orthodox church. But the nature of the relations between Old Believers and supporters of ROC changed. According to the island of Yakova, "... the intended and in advance considered insult in relation to Orthodox churches and clergy from local Old Believers is not noticed. if not alien Old Believers from the neighboring provinces, in particular - Chernihiv. that local split would be harmless to Orthodox Church" [8]. The father Yakov considered that the special danger is constituted by the nachetnik who are driving about on villages, perorating at meetings, abusing ROC, enclosing it with any ridiculous charges. It was very difficult to fight from a nachetnika-ma. The father Yakov Matveev, the missionary with a 30-year experience, at the beginning of the 20th century wrote about the methods of work: ". Old Believers know me as former missionary therefore often offer me the puzzled questions arising between them for permission. at the same time they acquaint me with their internal life. At the same time I try by all methods to affect not only mind of the listener, but also his heart. Explaining controversial issues, I most of all pay attention to disclosure of the positive truth, illustrating them examples from life of Saints. I many times had to observe that conversations of religious and moral contents have people more and soften hearts of Old Believers, than the solution of ceremonial questions" [8].

At a boundary of the XIX-XX centuries of Old Believers (Old Believers and bespopovets) and also persons, "evading from Orthodoxy", it appeared in the Stavropol province of 10.4 thousand people [9]. In general the number of conservatives in the North Caucasus gradually increased. "natural reproduction" and also mixed marriages from which children in most cases "were lost for Orthodoxy" was the main reasons for its gradual growth. Conservatives, choosing wives from an official Orthodox environment, considered a duty to acquaint them with "old belief".

Significant changes in position of Old Believers happened at the beginning of the 20th century. Decree of April 17, 1905. "About strengthening of the beginnings of toleration" and also the Decree of October 17, 1906 balanced Old Believers in the rights with persons of foreign confessions concerning the conclusion with Orthodox Christians of mixed marriages; the mode of operation and education of the Old Belief communities, the device of houses of worship, election of ecclesiastics, etc. was defined. But, as showed further events, democratic undertakings of the government in the religious sphere were accepted under pressure of revolutionary events and had tactical character. As soon as the revolutionary wave fell down, the government began to slow down consecutive carrying out reforms concerning Old Belief.

Thus, the Old Belief community in the second half of the 19th century played an important role in life of the North Caucasian region. It speaks,

first, the fact that among "adherents of old times" there was a large number of the prosperous peasants and merchants noticeably influencing economic life of the region. Secondly, presence in this territory of Old Belief community significantly influenced church life of official and orthodox parishes. Thirdly, the region formed transit base for resettlement in Transcaucasia of conservatives and representatives of various sects.

The Old Belief world was a traditionalism pole, the chief keeper of national religious and household foundations and some kind of counterbalance of spiritual laicisation. On the other hand, independence of "adherents of old times" in religious questions was serious "irritant" for the dominating orthodox church and "okormle-niya" of parishioners forced it to take measures for more careful church.

And though formally Russian legislation almost did not know legal restrictions on national sign, they actually took place and were defined by confessional accessory. As confessional distinctions practically coincided with national, a role of the regulator of an ethnic question was played by the religious legislation. It caused all other spetsifi-

Came to edition

chesky lines of the relations of the state and the religious organizations in pre-revolutionary Russia: use of the church power as tools of secular policy; intervention in intra church activity of other faiths existing in Russia; aspiration to restriction of "foreign" and "inoverny" religions with strictly national framework, etc.


1. I.K. Smolich. History of the Russian Church. M, 1997. T.8, Part 2. Page 116, 119.
2. Reforms of toleration on the dawn of the 20th century and a condition of established church of Russia / sost. M. Kalinin. N. Novgorod, 1905. Page 11.
3. M.A. Reysner. The state and the believing personality: sb. article SPb., 1905. Page 195.
4. V.A. Fedorov. Russian Orthodox Church and state. Synod period. 1700 - 1917. M, 2003.
5. See: P.I. Melnikov. Notations of dissenters/Half-N of SOBR. soch. SPb.; M, 1898. T.14. Page 392.
6. I. Belyaev. Russian missions on the outskirts. SPb., 1900. Page 234.
7. CGA RSO-A. F.143. Op.2. 34. L.3.
8. In the same place. 308. L.2.
9. GASK. F.135. Op.55. 958. L.1 about, 2.

On November 3, 2010

Charles Richardson
Other scientific works: