The campaign against members of a Christian seminar in the USSR is continuing, according to a report which has just reached Keston College. The latest news comes via Anatoli Levitin Krasnov, the orthodox writer now living in Switzerland.
According to Mr Levitin, the leader of the seminar, Alexander Ogorodnikov, 27, is threatened with arrest on a charge of "parasitism", or being without employment. Local authorities have given him until next week to find work. However, having been expelled from higher educational institutes because of his unconcealed religious convictions, Ogorodnikov can find noone who will employ him.
Pressure is also being put on members of his family who have no known connection with the seminar. Ogorodnikov is currently living in the town of Redkino, north-west of Moscow, in a house bought in his father's name. Although his father lives in the town of Chistopol, nearly 600 miles away, pressure is being brought upon him to sell the house. The Chistopol Militia summoned him and detained him for six hours in a cell.
Ogorodnikov's brother, the Orthodox monk Father Rafael, of the Pskov Monastery of the caves, is reportedly undergoing petty repressions on his brother's account. He is said to have been deprived of his cell in the monastery.
Ogoronikov has now been under pressure from the authorities constantly for over two years, since the campaign against the Christian seminar was first launched by the KGB early in the summer of 1976. Despite this, he is continuing to hold seminar sessions at his present home in Redkino.
Tatyana Shchipkova, a lecturer at Smolensk Pedagogical Institute, who lost her post recently when her connection with the seminar was discovered, has now been deprived of her degree, Mr Levitin reports. The academy of sciences of the USSR has revoked her Phd in Philology for "unscientific conduct" even though she had been teaching for seventeen years in Smolensk apparently without incident.
Despite this, the seminars are continuing to function as before and it is reported that the second issue of the seminar's Samizdat journal Obshchina is expected to appear shortly.