Contested Victims: Jehovah's Witnesses and the Russian Orthodox Church, 1990-2004 Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Baran, Emily B.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This essay analyzes how two religious organizations in post-Soviet Russia, the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), grappled with the legacy of the Soviet past in light of Russia's emerging democracy. Unlike other post-authoritarian states, the Russian government did little to address state repression, instead leaving society to sort out the victims from the collaborators and perpetrators. Witness and Orthodox versions of Soviet religious repression emerged in this climate of fractured narratives. The Witnesses made their Soviet-era repression into a rallying point for their international movement, and within Russia, into a platform for demanding equal rights. The ROC responded by contesting both the Witnesses' depiction of Soviet repression and their right to practice in Russia. The Witnesses exposed a major fault line in Russia's transition to democracy. The battle for control over religion's Soviet legacy demonstrates the malleability and instability of Russia's relationship to its Soviet past.
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  • In Copyright
  • Raleigh, Donald
  • Open access

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