KGB Agents in the Illegal Evangelical Communities of the Late USSR: the Experience of Microhistoric Research

 
PIIS207987840021688-5-1
DOI10.18254/S207987840021688-5
Publication type Article
Status Published
Authors
Affiliation: Institute of World History RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameISTORIYA
Edition
Abstract

This study analyzes the experience of KGB agents among unregistered evangelical Christians-Baptists. The article systematically examines the materials formed as a result of the activity of “Topsy” female agent who lived in Kiev and collaborated with the KGB from 1963 to 1981. In the study, based on a specific agent case, the algorithm of work of KGB representatives with an agent recruited in an illegal religious community was described, the types of documents that were postponed as a result of this cooperation were analyzed from the point of view of their potential as a historical source, the management of clerical documentation when working with the agency was clarified. The article showed the family circle and the directions of the agent's activity: she reported on preachers and guests of illegal worship services in the forest near Kiev, watched the family Vins — leaders of the illegal movement, about work in the community with children and youth, internal conflicts of the community. The materials of the archival record the participation of “Topsy” in the identification of print outlets of the ECB, meetings of the leaders of the movement, the “exposure” of emissaries of foreign religious centers. The study concluded that the KGB’s task was to control and monitor the ongoing processes in the religious community, conducting local operations to temporarily suppress the activity of individual activists, while the initiative and strategy were in the hands of religious activists. The analyzed activity of the “Topsy” agent was not aimed at eliminating the illegal movement — she herself was an important element of the social structuring of the community: she created a “musical space” for young people and children — but at “exposing” individual actions and characters.

Keywordsreligion in the USSR, religious communities, religious everyday life, KGB agents, history of state security agencies, evangelical Christians Baptists, Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, history of women, Kiev, autonomous movement of the ECB
Received13.03.2022
Publication date31.08.2022
Number of characters76855
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