Implementation of Atheistic Policy of Soviet Power in Konotop Region (1919-1988)
The paper considers the anti-church policy of Soviet Power in Sumy Region in 1919 – 1988. The greatest attention is paid to the circumstances of the closing and destruction of the Orthodox churches of Konotop region. For that reason, documents kept in the Sumy Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been used for the first time. The main measures of anti-religious policy were determined by the all-USSR and republican authorities, but their implementation depended to a large extent on local party-state leadership. Different forms of oppression of the church are analyzed, in particular, crossing off the register of religious communities, closing of churches, repressions against the priests, persecution and moral indignity of those who believed in God, robbery of resource bases and the destruction of religious buildings, despite their historical and cultural value.
The main stages of the closing of Orthodox churches in the region are determined; time and circumstances of closing, partial destruction, re-building for various institutions, etc. are specified. During the first anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and the 1930s, all churches in the region were closed. Some of them were destroyed, some were rebuilt for various institutions and they could not be given back for divine service. Most of the buildings were simply closed and stood unused.
The next anti-religious campaign in the late 1950s – the beginning of the 60's provided the further closing of the churches, disregard of people's opinion, the use of falsifications and exerting pressure on citizens in order to make «necessary» decisions. Despite the «Khrushchev Thaw», not a single church, closed at that time, was given back to the religious community. With time, as a result of that policy, churches came to an unusable or emergency condition, which allowed them to be destroyed during the following period.
As a result of the last anti-religious campaign in 1986, the party leadership destroyed Orthodox churches in the villages of Khizga, Sakhny, and Kozats’ke. The churches in the villages of Vyrivka, Huty, and Deptivka were defended by the locals. Now these rescued Orthodox shrines are in the charge of the state as the historical objects of local architecture.