For years, dissident Russian Orthodox priest-turned-member of Parliament Gleb Yakunin has charged that official church structures in the Soviet Union were compromised by the Communists. Now that the communist system is being dismantled, he has some powerful proof of those allegations.
When the KGB opened its archives last year to members of the Russian Parliament serving on the Commission on the Causes and Circumstances of the Coup d’Etat, investigators found extensive reports detailing the activities of high-level KGB agents and informers within the hierarchies of virtually every recognized religion in the Soviet Union. “Only the deepest underground unregistered churches were not infiltrated,” Yakunin told CHRISTIANITY TODAY. In addition, Yakunin said, agents within the churches attempted to influence foreign organizations, including the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, and even the Vatican.
Yakunin and commission chairman Lev Aleksandrovich Ponomarev came to Washington last month to present U.S. officials with their report and copies of documents from the KGB archives. They said that while many religions—and most notably the Baptists—are moving to rid their organizations of KGB infiltrators, the Russian Orthodox church has “not made one single move” in that direction. Said Yakunin, “We are trying to warn the churches in Russia and in the West … about what went on before and might go on again.”
Meanwhile, concerns remain in Russia about the direction of the KGB itself. Nikolai Stolyarov, the reform-minded vice-chairman who met with evangelical leaders last fall (CT, Jan. 13, 1992, p. 17), has resigned. Kent Hill, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, currently living in Moscow, said Stolyarov “lost confidence that he could accomplish what he wanted there.”
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