Scientific Information Agency
15 November 2021

Sumy region press as a repressive and propaganda instrument of anti-church policy in early 1920s

Ancient Sumy Land
Sumy region press as a repressive and propaganda instrument of anti-church policy in early 1920s

A circle of the press is established. This press was distributed on the territory of Sumy region before and during the period of the campaign confiscation of church property: 1921 — 1922. This press can be classified according to the place of publication: print media of the capital, periodicals of nationwide scale, local newspapers. Long before the proclamation of the decree of confiscation of church property Bolshevik regime starts ideological propaganda campaign with people preparation to these events. September 7, 1921 agitation propaganda department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine publishes thesis for agitators and the press, where the exploiting nature of the Orthodox Church was accentuated. Newspapers of that time completely subordinated to the requirements. On the basis of the extensive source of material and historiography was found that one of the first newspaper publications in this area were articles of the printed organ of Ukrainian Central Executive Committee of peasant Workers’ radas and Red Army Deputies.Those were such newspapers as «Visty» (September-October 1921), «Kurkulyacha cerkva», «Za Isusa chy‘ za hliba kusa», etc. These materials are primarily directed against the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The effect of the central press organs is valued. The first of February 1922 the newspaper «Izvestia» included a paragraph that was called «On the wealth of the Church» under the heading «A struggle with hunger». Since then, this rubric had become constant. Shortly the same rubric appears in republican and then in local newspapers. The information, that was given in the notes of this rubric was virtually identical. The charges of Orthodox church in the incredible wealth and their unwillingness to sacrifice to help the starving begin. The church is highlighted as one of the enemies of the new government, social and political system and all the people in general. Then printing of various letters signed by «believers» or without signature at all began. The authors appealed to the government to confiscate church valuables in favor of starving people. Since then there were always too provocative articles with headlines such as «Counterrevolution under the church pretext», «Vbyvnyky v ryasax», «Thieves in cassocks» etc. From the beginning of 1922 similar articles appeared in the local press. Although they appear later, the influence of central organs and central press is shown. In addition, in order to attract the believers to the campaign’s realization, appeals of the clergy are spread on the territory of Sumy region. Believers are asked to pay part of the church property to help the starving. From the start of this campaign in central and local press appears information about valuables’ confiscation in different areas. Local newspapers give detailed information about the temples and how much property was confiscated. Thus, organ of Romny district Party Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine and the district executive committee — the newspaper «Izvestia» since May 24, 1922 constantly has a rubric «Confiscation of the valuables in Romny region». After confiscation of church property the church baiting did not stop, in both, central and local press. Further it was accused of excessive mythical wealth and exploiting of Orthodox believers and disruption in grain procurement campaign. The influence of articles in the press, which extends to Sumy region in 1921-1922s to the mood of people and their embranchment of the confiscation of church property campaign is evaluated. It was found that just the press played one of the leading roles in a wide propaganda campaign in support of the expropriation of church property. Through publications and articles government managed to form the thought of need to sacrifice the idea of church property to help the starving among the majority of modern Sumy region population. Most people had compassion upon it or did not care. Despite the fact that in some places there were performances by believers against confiscation of church property, the majority of them did not join. This has led to the fact that the Soviet authorities recognized the confiscation of church property in some parts of the region, as one of the most productive in Ukraine.

Source: Olitskyy V.O. (2016) Sumy region press as a repressive and propaganda instrument of anti-church policy in early 1920s. Ancient Sumy Land. №XLIX: 83–91

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