Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs – Fr. Vladimir Rusak

I love my Church, I grieve for its fate and I want to serve it, but, of course, not at the price of subservience, that terrible price which our Church leadership is paying… Fr. Vladimir Rusak.


In Prison

    On April 22 Fr. Vladimir Rusak received a phone call at his home in Moscow asking that he meet someone at a given place. He has not been seen since he went to keep the appointment. Friends present in his apartment when it was searched the next day by the KGB were shown a document stating that Fr. Vladimir was arrested on charges of "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda," under Article 70 of the Criminal Code.

    A deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church, Fr. Vladimir first came to the attention of the West in 1983 when he wrote a letter to the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches detailing the difficulties faced by believers and by Russian Orthodox priests in matters of theological education. Fr. Vladimir had experienced considerable difficulties himself, having been dismissed from his job in the editorial offices of the Moscow Patriarchate Journal when it became known that he was working on a history of the Russian Church since the Revolution. His archive was confiscated, and he was forbidden to serve until he made a recantation of his activities-which he refused to do. Exiled at first to a monastery, Fr. Vladimir later moved back to Moscow, where he was working as a road sweeper to avoid arrest on charges of "parasitism ."

    Fr. Vladimir was tried and sentenced in Moscow on Sept. 27 to 7 years' strict regime camp to be followed by 5 years of internal exile, the maximum sentence under Article 70.

     The severity of the sentence may have been provoked by the fact that on August 15, 1985, Fr. Vladimir wrote a letter to Archbishop Anthony of Geneva (Russian Church Abroad) requesting his help in emigrating from the Soviet Union "to any country outside the Socialist camp where there is an Orthodox church, and where 'God' is still written with a capital letter."

    More recently he was transferred from the strict regime camp to Lefortovo prison in Moscow where he was put under pressure to sign a statement of recantation. He refused, and has now been sent back to camp. (KNS #262, 10/30/86; KNS #270, 3/4/87)