Citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed freedom of
conscience, that is, the right to profess or not to profess any religion, and to
conduct religious worship or atheistic propaganda. Incitement of hostility or
hatred on religious grounds is prohibited. (Article 52 of the Soviet
Born in 1949 of an intellectual atheist family, Vladimir Poresh was converted during his student years at Leningrad University. In1974. he was baptized by Fr. Dimitri Dudko and together with Alexander Ogorodnikov founded the Christian Seminar, a group mainly of young people who have come to the Orthodox faith after becoming disillusioned with Marxism-Leninism. Poresh, a man of deep faith and vivid personality, looked upon his activity in the Seminar as putting his Christian belief[ into practice in the world. As editor of the Seminar's journal "Obshchina" ("Community") Poresh was arrested in August, 1979 and charged with "Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda." in April of this year he was sentenced to 5 years of hard labor followed by 3 years of exile: Poresh is married with two children , the youngest of whom, born after his arrest, he has never seen.
Thanks to his
many supporters, a transcript of his trial was made and is now circulated by the
underground press (Samizdat). His burning faith, manifested by his courage and
boldness in the face of his accusers, should serve to inspire all of us to
imitate this true soldier of Christ.
"Aid to the
Russian Church", Bulletin #3, 1980.
We give here an
excerpt from the transcript of his trial. May this move our readers to offer
fervent prayer to God for this new martyr and those~ who stand with him.
In answer to
the judge's question, was it not true that he was not persecuted for his
religious beliefs, Poresh answered:
work I was treated well; even the Party organizer was kind and correct towards
me; in prison I was given a prayer book, a Bible. Thank you for this. But
according to the laws of our country I was supposed to sit quietly and remain
silent; but for a Christian it is not enough merely to fulfill certain rites. We
cannot limit ourselves in this way. We need the whole world."
relatives were standing in the back of the courtroom, offering moral support to
the accused. As the sentence was read, they shouted out, "Christ is
Risen” .... Volodya, we love you! .... Volodya, we're proud of you!"
Forced out of the courtroom into a corridor and down a stairwell, of one accord
they began singing at the top of their lungs the Paschal hymn, "Christ is
risen from the dead..." which echoed through the halls of the Leningrad
courthouse perhaps for the first time in 60 years.
Neither the ruthless sentences of judges, nor the threats of persecutors can shake faith in Christ.“Possev”, August, 1980