Inspired by question Were there in the USSR monasteries decorated with Soviet orders?. Although religion was contrary to the dominant Marxist ideology (but see Christian Communism), it was tolerated in the USSR - at least from the moment when Stalin decided to co-opt the Orthodox church in the struggle with Hitler. However, controlling the "cults" likely required having reliable agents installed at the key positions (as priests/rabbis/imams or at higher levels of religious hierarchy.) No doubt many of these were informers or otherwise collaborated with the Soviet power. I wonder however, whether it went as far (and whether it made sense) that some of them would be secretly members of the Communist party or even undercover KGB operatives (which is apparently suggested by some Soviet folklore.)

  • 5
    This seems to cover what little is known: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jul 8 at 15:54
  • 5
    According to Patriarch Filaret every Russian Orthodox priest was a KGB agent. The source implies but does not explicitly state that they were not, however, members - they would undertake missions for the intelligence services but did not have rank, draw a salary, etc. The distinction is slim, but unfortunately casts enough ambiguity on the conclusion that I don't think this can stand as an answer.
    – SPavel
    Commented Jul 8 at 17:40
  • It is hard to believe that the various state apparatuses did not have inside ways of monitoring things.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 8 at 21:58
  • @JonCuster Indeed. However, my question in more specific - whether clergymen were simply co-opted by the state apparatus or whether they were actively infiltrated by undercover agents.
    – Roger V.
    Commented Jul 9 at 9:17
  • All kinds of shades of grey here, not so much an either/or question. KGB knows some young guy is interested in the priesthood, which is already kind of a black mark. But, that makes the young guy an easy target to 'recruit' - just send the KGB the odd report and we go easy on your family.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 9 at 12:27


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.