Famous Orthodox soviet dissident dies



Gleb Yakunin, a rights advocate and former deputy of the State Duma, died in his 81st year of life, in Moscow. TASS was told this by the head of the movement "For Human Rights," Lev Ponomarev. He said, "Father Gleb died today after a serious illness. The rights advocacy community is in mourning."


We recall that Gleb Yakunin was a famous soviet dissident, who was imprisoned for several years for his faith and for demanding the church's freedom. He was the founder of the Apostolic Orthodox Church, who was hospitalized on 18 November in intensive care in the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow in serious condition.


Radio station Echo of Moscow noted that physicians estimated his condition as serious and stable, and friends and colleagues counted on a rapid recovery; and actually medics managed to bring the rights advocate out of a coma and he gained consciousness. Civic activists expected that he would soon recover his health and even announced a collection of help for treatment and Yakunin's further rehabilitation, but a miracle did not happen.


Gleb Pavlovich Yakunin was born 4 March 1934 in Moscow into a musician's family. He received an education in biology in the Irkutsk Agricultural Institute. In 1959 he graduated from the Moscow Ecclesiastical Seminary. He was ordained in 1962 and a year later was appointed to the Kazan church of the city of Dmitrov in Moscow province.


In 1965, for the first time since the 1920s, internal church opposition arose in the RPTs. Two priests, Nikolai Eshliman and Gleb Yakunin, sent a 70-page appeal to then Patriarch Alexis I and other hierarchs of the RPTs, as well as to samizdat and to the West. This appeal raised the question about the cooperation of the hierarchy with the state in the conduct of the Khrushchev persecutions of the church, when 10,000 churches were closed. This appeal became a manifesto of the Orthodox democratic opposition, and Gleb Yakunin was inhibited from the ministry.


In 1976, in support of the Helsinki group, Yakunin created the Christian Committee for the Defense of Believers Rights in the USSR. He published many articles about persecution of believers and about restrictions of religious liberty, and he actively aided religious dissidents of all confessions, including Lithuanian Catholics.


On 1 November 1979, he was arrested and spent five years in a camp for political prisoners, "Perm-37," and then he was in exile for another more than two years. In the third year his exile was interrupted by the Gorbachev political amnesty which was supplemented by a church amnesty. He was restored to clerical rank and began to serve in the St. Nicholas church in the village of Zhegalovo in the suburbs of Moscow. For rehabilitation, he had to wait until 18 October 1991.


Since the 1990s, Gleb Yakunin has been one of the recognized leaders of the Democratic Russia movement and its permanent co-chairman. He was one of the founders of the Public Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Conscience, which deals with the defense of believers' rights.


In 1990-1993, Father Gleb was a deputy of the Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR and in 1993-1995 he was a deputy of the fourth State Duma. On 1 November 1993 the hierarchy of the RPTs deprived Gleb Yakunin of his clerical rank under the pretext that he was violating the prohibition by the Moscow patriarchate of priests' running in election campaigns. Gleb Yakunin transferred to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Later he became a priest in the Russian True Orthodox Church (the catacomb church). In 2000, on its foundation, was formed the Movement for the Regeneration of Russian Orthodoxy and then also the Orthodox Church of Regeneration, which later was called the Apostolic Orthodox Church. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 December 2014)


Interfax-Religiia, 25 December 2014


Gleb Yakunin, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and a dissident and former priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was excommunicated from it, died in Moscow in the 81st year of life, the website of the Moskovskii Komsomolets reported on Thursday.


On 18 November he was hospitalized in the intensive care unit of TsKB in Moscow in serious condition. Shortly before this he had returned from a trip to USA.


G. Yakunin spent several years in places of incarceration for anti-Soviet agitation. He was an active participant of the rights advocacy movement and he fought for religious liberty and he spoke out in criticism of the hierarchy of the Russian church. In the early 1990s he was unfrocked for refusal to submit to the requirement of nonparticipation in parliamentary elections and later he was excommunicated from the church. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 December 2014)


Priest and rights advocate Gleb Yakunin dies in 81st year of life

by Ivan Sinergiev

Kommersant, 25 December 2014


Gleb Yakunin, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, died in the 81st year of his life. He was an active participant in the rights advocacy movement in the USSR, defending believers' rights. He became a politician in the late 198os, one of the leaders of the start of the broad democratic movement, and thereafter of its radical branch. In recent years Gleb Yakunin returned to rights advocacy activity.


The death of Father Gleb Yakunin "after a serious illness" was reported by the head of the "For Human Rights" movement, Lev Ponomarev.


The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Liudmila Alekseeva, told Kommersant: "For us this is a great loss. I have known him since 1976. Soon after the creation of the Moscow Helsinki Group, he created the Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights in the USSR. The Orthodox priest undertook to defend the rights of believers of all religions and nationalities. Those who excommunicated him from the church did so out of hatred, but he lived in accordance with love and conscience." He was "a true Christian," although he fell into disgrace with the RPTs back in the soviet years, Mrs. Alekseeva said.


In fact, people of different generations knew Gleb Yakunin in diverse ways. Dissidents considered him one of their own, and here, for example, the commissioner for human rights in Russia Ella Pamfilova did not tell TASS casually that she viewed Gleb Yakunin more "not as a priest but as a politician of the first wave, the politics of 'Democratic Russia.'"


Indeed, the minister in the Gaidar government was not able to remember him other than as Deputy Yakunin who supported the cabinet in the extremely critically minded Supreme Soviet and one of the organizers of demonstrations in support of Boris Yeltsin and his course. For this, the political opponents paid Gleb Yakunin back with the most genuine hatred and among supporters of the Supreme Soviet he was one of the chief targets of criticism and insults.


The flowering of Gleb Yakunin's political career came in the early 1990s, a time of large demonstrations and harsh speeches. By 1993 his influence in the democratic camp abated somewhat, including at the expense of former ministers who transferred into the opposition.


The last time Gleb Yakunin tried to return to politics was in 1997 when he ran for the Moscow city duma. After this he returned again to rights advocacy activity and, in Liudmila Alekseeva's words, he was occupied primarily with the defense of freedom of religious confession. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 December 2014)


Russian original posted on the site, 25 December 2014

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