Interview with V. (Moscow)

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Key information

Title: Interview with V. (Moscow)
Date: 01/04/2012
Interviewer: Miriam Dobson (MD)
Interviewee: Interviewee, V. (V)
Duration: 1 hour(s) 09 minutes and 47 seconds
Location: Moscow


V In 1968 I began visiting the central church. Trekhsvetitelskii Lane. There was a small group of young people there and I began visiting it.
MD How old were you at the time?
V I was probably 15. 15 years old. We would go on Saturdays and gather at the home of one of the members of this group, we would analyze the sciptures and pray. There were primitive sermons, we were only studying how to sing because collections of musical notes were copied out by hand and the verses were copied out by hand. Everything we did was based on our own initiative, someone somewhere heard something, someone somewhere found something, someone somewhere copied something.
MD Approximately how many people were there?
V Probably about 20. But it was so interesting with this group that we started inviting our own brothers and sisters. Then gradually, as people began inviting their colleagues and friends, gradually the group began to grow. It began to grow and new ministers would join is, leaders who divided this group into 20 people, then Nikolay Epishin appeared, I don’t know where he came from, just as young people appeared so Nikolai Epishin appeared as the leader, then Petya Abrashkin, Petr Sinitsa, Sasha Batylin, there were lots and lots of them. Then we were forbidden from holding a service on Vuzovsky, and forbidden from congregating and praying.
MD Why?
V The Communists forbade us. After worship we’d go down to the Moscow River, get on a river bus and travel to the Lenin Hills, where we got out and prayed in the forest.
MD That was after worship?
V Yes, after worship. It was Sunday, let’s say, it finished at 12, you get on a boat, travel to, say, Luzhniki on a river bus, you get there, we’d pop into a café, have something to eat, a cup of tea or coffee, and then gather in nature, sing some hymns, sermons were spoken. Usually after these sermons 2-3-5 people would confess their sins. In other words, almost every Sunday we had new members, that’s to say brothers and sisters who confessed their sins.
MD Where did these new members come from, how did they find out about you, do you remember?
V They were children whose parents were religious believers, and whose parents were afraid of bringing them to a house of worship. When they saw that young people were attending, they would invite and bring along their own children, they introduced them to us, we took them, embraced them with love and they didn’t want to leave. So, from 1968 to 1971 in Moscow about 700 young people repented of their sins. That was a serious and powerful group.
MD These young people, were they students or workers or both?
V There were very few students, essentially they were workers. I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the people who enrolled in the Institute and obtained higher education. In 1971 I enrolled as a full-time student in the Moscow Architectural Institute. I left school… in 1971 I left school with a particular focus on architecture and the arts, there were about 90 of us students. Out of this group only 5 enrolled, including myself, in other words a lot of people fell by the wayside. The competition was strong. So, I enrolled as a full-time student and in my second year I decided to have a water baptism. After I had received baptism I was summoned to the Institute and told, ‘You’re being expelled, you’re not a Komsomol member, therefore…’