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COMMUNIST CONTROLS ON RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES
TUESDAY, MAY 5, 1959
SUBCOMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE THE ADMINISTRATION,
SECURITY LAWS, OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 3:05 p.m., in room 141, Senate Office Building, Senator Thomas J. Dodd presiding. Also present: J. G. Sourwine, chief counsel; Benjamin Mandel, director of research; Frank W. Schroeder, chief investigator; Robert C. McManus, investigation analyst; and William F. McManus, research assistant.
Senator DODD. The subcommittee will come to order.
We will first swear the witness. Will you stand and raise your right hand, please.
You do solemnly swear that the testimony you give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. DERIABIAN. I do.
Senator DODD. Will you give us your name and address?
TESTIMONY OF PETR S. DERIABIAN, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. DERIABIAN. My name is Petr S. Deriabian. I live now in Washington, D. C.
I was born February 13, 1921, in Russia, in the village of Lokot, in Altai, Kray Province. Its name then was Altai. It is now Altai Kray.
Senator DODD. You may proceed.
Mr. SOURWINE. Mr. Deriabian, have you been an officer of the NKVD, later known as the Ministry of State Security?
Mr. DERIABIAN. Yes. I was a member of the state security from 1944 until February 1954.
Mr. SOURWINE. What rank did you reach in that organization? Mr. DERIABIAN. The last of my rank was major of state security. Mr. SOURWINE. Would you describe briefly your career with that organization?
Mr. DERIABIAN. I attended a counterintelligence school in 1944-45 in Moscow. At that time it was under state security control.
After finishing that school, I was working as a case officer in the "operupolnomocheny"; in the naval counterintelligence.
Then I was since 1945 to 1946, I was the chief of the Komsomol, Communist youth organization of the naval counterintelligence directorate, in Moscow.
And in May 1946, I left Moscow and went to my place where I was born in Altai Province. I was working there in the state security organization of Altai Kray from May 1946 to February 1947.
First I was a chief of surveillance group and then chief of administration of the Province headquarters of the state security in the city of Barnaul, capital of Altai Province.
Mr. SOURWINE. Yes, go ahead.
Mr. DERIABIAN. And in March 1947, I was called to Moscow where I started to work in the counterintelligence section of Okrana, the Kremlin security guard, which is taking care of members of the Politbureau.
I was working there from March 1947 until April 1952.
Then I was transferred to the intelligence directorate, actually as an officer of the Austro-German section, where I was working as deputy chief of the German sector.
In September 1953, I was transferred to Vienna, to MVD headquarters in Vienna, in Austria. There I was working as counterintelligence officer. And I left MVD in February 1954. That is all.
Mr. SOURWINE. Mr. Deriabian, while you were in Barnaul, did you have occasion to learn of action by the MGB against believers of Orthodox church and Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists?
Mr. DERIABIAN. Yes, while I was working in Barnaul in 1946-47, I was working as chief administrative officer under Colonel Ruzin, who was the chief of state security at that time.
At that time in my position I read all papers which was coming into security from Moscow and other Provinces, and outgoing from there. It was my business at that time.
In that time, in 1946 and 1947, in Barnaul, in the state security, we had a subsection O which was taking care of religious activities in Altai Kray. The chief of that subsection at that time was Captain Gavrilov, who was working under Colonel Ruzin, too.
In MGB in Moscow, at that time, there was a section O of the state security. The chief of that section was General Karpov, and under him was every security officer in the region and the Province sections, or subsections O.
This subsection was taking care of all activities of Baptists and religious orders.
In that time in Altai Kray, when I was working there in 1946 and 1947, according to the liberalization, which was 1943, during the war when freedom for religious activity, even in the Soviet Union, was had, the activists in Altai Province of the Communist Party organization was wondering about that, and captain Gavrilov at that time issued a report to Colonel Ruzin, describing all religious activities in Altai Kray.
At that time, the head of the party in Altai Kray, Belayev, who was later a member of the Presidium to the Communist Party-Mr. Belayev had given instructions to Colonel Ruzin to investigate all religious activities and give a full report to the Communist Party bureau in Altai Kray. And Captain Gavrilov issued, recommended countermeasures. Colonel Ruzin was a member of the Altai Kray party committee in Altai Province.
Mr. SOURWINE. Did you see this report?
Mr. DERIABIAN. Yes, I saw this report, I read that report. Actually I was reading it together with Colonel Ruzin. And there were others who were working for me in my office.
Mr. SOURWINE. Will you tell us about this report?
Mr. DERIABIAN. That report describes all religious activities in the towns. One town was Kamen town, which was approximately 850 kilometers from Barnaul. It is a small town. That report described the activities of the Orthodox and the Baptists. Old believers' activities there, besides their actions, in the report looked not like a religious activity, but more anti-Soviet.
They had opened the places of worship where the religious people went to read the Bible and so on and so on. There were a few churches opened in that small town.
In the same way, Captain Gavrilov found that some old believers had harbored a deserter. He came in sometime during the war and was there, and the believers did not show him to the government, the local people. And Captain Gavrilov suggested that they had found the soldier, and it was possible to say that all of the believers are antiSoviet and to take action. That is, to take some kind of prophylactic, or preventive, action.
And in the Altai Kray party committee, after reading these reports actually Colonel Ruzin delivered that report to the party committee and made that decision, that Colonel Ruzin, as chief of the state security in Barnaul, should take some action as to the religious activities in Altai Kray.
Mr. SOURWINE. In other words, Captain Gavrilov recommended counteraction against the religions?
Mr. DERIABIAN. You are right; that is right.
Mr. SOURWINE. And it was then decided that such countermeasures were to be taken?
Mr. DERIABIAN. That is right.
Mr. SOURWINE. Can you tell us when this was-this was in the year 1943, was it, or 1944?
Mr. DERIABIAN. No, no; it was 1946.
Mr. SOURWINE. 1946?
Mr. DERIABIAN. December 1946.
Mr. SOURWINE. What was the nature of the countermeasures that were decided upon?
Mr. DERIABIAN. Well, actually, the committee of Altai Kray region, they did not suggest what kind of measures should be taken, because they do not work this way. They never say how to do, what kind of
Colonel Ruzin was a member of the party committee. He himself made the decision. Captain Gavrilov made a plan, and the Provincial committee approved the adoption of countermeasures.
It encompassed party activists and the Komsomol, and it made a nice operation. And it was to investigate the religious activists, to investigate them.
Mr. SOURWINE. By "activists of religion" you mean religious leaders?
Mr. DERIABIAN. Leaders; that is right.
Mr. SOURWINE. The priests and the ministers?
Mr. DERIABIAN. Well, actually I would say it isn't possible to call them priests or ministers. Some of them who were strong believers, the people appointed themselves to be religious priests or to substitute for the priests.
Mr. SOURWINE. The lay leaders of the church, as we would say?
Mr. DERIABIAN. That is right. The Baptist and all believer organizations, they did not meet in churches, but in some kind of a house, and sometimes met together and read the Bible, like that.
Mr. SOURWINE. You say that some of these people were arrested? Mr. DERIABIAN. Actually, they arrested about 16 leaders and activists who were strong believers and brought them to Barnaul City. They decided to put them into the jail that we now had at headquarters, but that jail was too little. And the chief of the militia said we could use his militia jail to put these people under investigation. Mr. SOURWINE. So they were put in the military prison?
Mr. DERIABIAN. No, the militia.
Mr. SOURWINE. That is the police jail?
Mr. DERIABIAN. The police jail. Some of them stayed in the other, but there was not enough place, and the others they put in the police jail.
Mr. SOURWINE. That would be the common jail of the town, would you say?
Mr. DERIABIAN. No, I would say, actually it is a house of detention. People are put there while being investigated, but as a matter of fact, some of them stayed there for 4 years.
Mr. SOURWINE. I think, perhaps, the record should show at this time correct me if I am wrong-that quite contrary to our system in this country, under the Soviet system when a man is arrested he is immediately put into detention; he is under the control of the prosecutor; he is not entitled to an attorney until the investigation is finished, and he may be detained for a substantial period of time.
Mr. DERIABIAN. In this case, I would like to describe to you that, because the prosecutor generally was a member of the committee of Barnaul, too. They worked together. He signed that paper to arrest and what should be done, because if he will not, it means he is not making order out of the party committee order. It was actually sometimes possible to see the prisoners, but it was his duty.
And it was so that you could say, "Let us look around and save some work."
Mr. SOURWINE. In this country we have pretrial procedure which is before the court, and the accused has all the protections of the law.
In the Soviet Union the pretrial procedure is under the police. It is under the control of the prosecutor, and the accused has no protection and no rights at all.
Mr. DERIABIAN. You are right.
Mr. SOURWINE. Until the investigation is completed.
Mr. DERIABIAN. You are right.
Mr. SOURWINE. Go ahead.
Mr. DERIABIAN. Now, from these 16 believers who were arrested at that time, some of them were sentenced from 5, 7, and 8 years in jail, and some of them-I think 3 or 4 who were very old womenthey freed them.
Mr. SOURWINE. They convicted 12 or 13 out of the 16?
Mr. DERIABIAN. Out of the 16.
Mr. SOURWINE. And gave them long jail-prison sentences?
Mr. SOURWINE. What had they done for which they were punished in this way?
Mr. DERIABIAN. They were punished on anti-Soviet activities.
Mr. DERIABIAN. Simply for being religious leaders, and that they made religious propaganda to the population of that city-asked them to join a religious organization or a church, while the people had to go to work, working in the collective farms, and so on, and so on.
Mr. SOURWINE. Asking people to join the church, then, was characterized as an antistate activity?
Mr. DERIABIAN. That is right; you are right.
Mr. SOURWINE. Would you say this was an isolated instance in Kamen town, or was this simply a sample, illustrative of the end of that period of religious toleration which you spoke about earlier? Mr. DERIABIAN. Pardon me, no; it was typical for the Soviet Union, not just right in Altai Kray.
Mr. SOURWINE. It was typical?
Mr. DERIABIAN. In other provinces.
Mr. SOURWINE. This just happened to be a particular instance which came to your notice?
Mr. DERIABIAN. That is right.
Mr. SOURWINE. All right, go ahead.
Mr. DERIABIAN. About the religious activity, I would like to state that while I was in Barnaul, late in 1946, the chief, Colonel Ruzin, received a letter from General Karpov, whom I mentioned before as chief of the religious section of the state security in Moscow, and in that letter General Karpov stated that one resident of Barnaul has sent a letter asking for admission to the Orthodox Seminary in Moscow. He asked consent to attend that.
General Karpov wrote to Colonel Ruzin to check the background of the young man. Actually at that time he was about 31 or 32 years old, and to recruit him as a source or an agent of MGB, before he could go to Moscow.
Colonel Ruzin, actually ordered to do the job, sent it to Captain Gavrilov, with instructions to check and report.
Approximately 1 month later a letter was sent to Moscow, to General Karpov, from Colonel Ruzin, and Colonel Ruzin reported that this candidate was a religious fanatic.
Mr. SOURWINE. A religious fanatic?
Mr. DERIABIAN. And that he saw no reason to recruit him as an agent, because he will not help.
Mr. SOURWINE. Before you go on, you mentioned Major General Karpov. Is this the same Major General Karpov who was described by Vladimar Petrov, the Soviet diplomat who defected in Australia, as a permanent officer of the NKVD, who over a long period had made an assiduous and exhaustive study of Russian Orthodox ceremonies, ordinances, and teachings, and was able to converse earnestly and learnedly with church dignitaries on their own ground?
Mr. DERIABIAN. Well, Major General Karpov is the same man who was the chief of the council on Orthodox Church under the Council of Ministers in the Soviet Union.