Gleb Yakunin
Gleb Pavlovich Yakunin is Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n priest and dissident
A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. When dissidents unite for a common cause they often effect a dissident movement....

 who fought for the freedom of conscience in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. He was member of Moscow Helsinki Group
Moscow Helsinki Group
The Moscow Helsinki Group is an influential human rights monitoring non-governmental organization, originally established in what was then the Soviet Union; it still operates in Russia....

, and he was elected to Russian Parliaments from 1990 to 1999.


Gleb Yakunin was born into the family of a musician. He studied Biology at Irkutsk
Irkutsk is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, one of the largest cities in Siberia. Population: .-History:In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovye near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov...

 Agricultural Institute. He became a Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 at the end of the 1950s when he met Alexander Men
Alexander Men
Father Alexander Vladimirovich Men was a Russian Orthodox theologian, Biblical scholar and writer.Father Alexander wrote dozen of books ; baptized hundreds if not thousands; founded an Orthodox Open University; opened one of the first Sunday Schools in...

. Yakunin graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary
A seminary, theological college, or divinity school is an institution of secondary or post-secondary education for educating students in theology, generally to prepare them for ordination as clergy or for other ministry...

 of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 in 1959. In August 1962 he was ordained
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 a priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 and was appointed to the parish church
Parish church
A parish church , in Christianity, is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish, the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches....

 in the city of Dimitrov
Dimitrov may refer to:* Dimitrov * Dimitrov, Armenia, a town* Dimitrov, Russia...

 near Moscow.

In 1965, Yakunin wrote, together with priest Nikolai Eschliman, an open letter
Open letter
An open letter is a letter that is intended to be read by a wide audience, or a letter intended for an individual, but that is nonetheless widely distributed intentionally....

 to the Patriarch of Moscow, Alexius I, where he argued that the Church must be liberated from the total control of the Soviet state. The letter was published samizdat
Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader...

("self-published", i.e., underground press
Underground press
The underground press were the independently published and distributed underground papers associated with the counterculture of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and other western nations....

). In May 1966 he was forbidden to continue his priestly ministry in the parish. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

 supported Gleb Yakunin and Nikolai Eschliman in his letter to Patriarch Alexius.

In 1976 he created the Christian Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers in the USSR. He published several hundreds of articles about the suppression of religious freedom in the Soviet Union. These documents were used by dissidents of all religious denomination
Religious denomination
A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.The term describes various Christian denominations...

s. Yakunin was arrested and convicted for anti-Soviet agitation in 28 August 1980. He was kept in KGB Lefortovo prison
Lefortovo prison
Lefortovo prison is a prison in Moscow, Russia, which, since 2005, has been under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. It was built in 1881...

 until 1985, and then in a labor camp
Labor camp
A labor camp is a simplified detention facility where inmates are forced to engage in penal labor. Labor camps have many common aspects with slavery and with prisons...

 known as "Perm 37". Later, he was punished by involuntary settlement
Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union
Forced settlements in the Soviet Union took several forms. Though the most notorious was the Gulag labor camp system of penal labor, resettling of entire categories of population was another method of political repression implemented by the Soviet Union. At the same time, involuntary settlement...

 in Yakutia.

Gleb Yakunin was given amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

 in March 1987 under Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

. He was allowed to return to Moscow and worked again as a priest until 1992. He was rehabilitated
Rehabilitation (Soviet)
Rehabilitation in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states, was the restoration of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis, to the state of acquittal...

 in 1991. In 1990 Yakunin was elected to the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation and worked as deputy chairman the Parliamentary
Committee for the Freedom of Conscience. He was co-author of the law concerning "The freedom of all denominations" that was used for the opening of churches and monasteries throughout the country.

Gleb Yakunin was a member of the committee created for the investigation of the Soviet coup attempt of 1991
Soviet coup attempt of 1991
The 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt , also known as the August Putsch or August Coup , was an attempt by a group of members of the Soviet Union's government to take control of the country from Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev...

 and chaired by Lev Ponomaryov
Lev Ponomaryov
Lev Alexandrovich Ponomaryov is a Russian politician and human rights activist, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and former member of the parliament...

, and thereby gained the access to secret KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 archives. In March 1992 he published materials about the cooperation the Moscow Patriarchate with the KGB. He claimed that the code names of several high-rank KGB agents in the Orthodox Church were those of Patriarch Alexius II
Patriarch Alexius II
Patriarch Alexy II was the 15th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church....

, Mitropolitans Filaret of Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, Pitrim of Volokolamsk, and others. The Russian church excommunicated
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 Yakunin in 1993, after which he joined the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is one of the three major Orthodox Churches in Ukraine. Close to ten percent of the Christian population claim to be members of the UAOC. The other Churches are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Russophile Orthodox...

, which regarded his excommunication as political and therefore invalid.

Gleb Yakunin was one of organizers of the democratic alliance "Choice of Russia" in 1993, prior to the opening of the "constitutional convention" called by Russian president, Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

. He became a Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

 delegate from the party "Democratic Russia
Democratic Russia
Democratic Russia was generic name for several political entities that played a transformative role in Russia's transition from Communist rule:...

" in 1996. He created the Committee for Defense of Freedom of Conscience in 1995. He criticized the law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" adopted by the Duma and made numerous statements in support of human rights in Russia
Human rights in Russia
The rights and liberties of the citizens of the Russian Federation are granted by Chapter 2 of the Constitution adopted in 1993.Russia is the signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has also ratified a number of other international human rights instruments, including the...


As is traditional for Orthodox parish priests, Gleb Yakunin was married, and has three children: Maria, Alexander and Anna.

See also

  • Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union
    Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union
    The history of Christianity in the Soviet Union was not limited to repression and secularization. Soviet policy toward religion was based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, which made atheism the official doctrine of the Soviet Union...

  • Human rights in the Soviet Union
    Human rights in the Soviet Union
    Human rights in the Soviet Union have been viewed differently, one view by the communist ideology adopted by the Soviet Union and another by its critics. The Soviet Union was established after a revolution that ended centuries of Tsarist monarchy...


  • Gleb Yakunin, Lev Regelson: "Christians under communist rule: How Shall we Answer the Call?" Appeal at D. 5. Plenary assembly D. Ökumeni advice D. Churches. Faith in the Second World, Küsnacht, 1978
  • Gleb Yakunin, Lev Regelson: Letters from Moscow: Religion and Human Rights in the USSR. Keston College, Keston/San Francisco, 1978
  • Gleb Yakunin: O sovremennom polozhenii Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi i perspektivakh religioznogo vozrozhdeniya Rossii: Doklad Khristianskomu Komitetu zashchitu prav veruyushchikh v SSSR. Posev, Frankfurt am Main 1979
  • Sergei Pushkarev, Vladimir Rusak, Gleb Yakunin: Christianity and Government in Russia and the Soviet Union: Reflections on the Millennium. Westview press, Boulder/London 1989, ISBN 081337524X

His writings

Russian Orthodox Church

External links

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