Women martyrs of Kazakhstani gulag celebrated on 100th anniversary of beginning of red terror

Astana, Kazakhstan, August 31, 2018

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His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan visited the Church of the New Martyrs of Akmola in the Tselinograd District of the Akmola Province of Kazakhstan, where he served a moleben to the martyrs of Christ who shone forth in Kazakhstan, and a memorial service for all those who were innocently killed during the persecutions against the Church, reports the site of the Kazakhstan Diocese.

The metropolitan was accompanied by several local clergymen and the staff of the diocesan administration.

Met. Alexander’s pilgrimage to the place of suffering of the Akmola New Martyrs was timed to the 100th anniversary of the tragic beginning of the red terror. After the assassination attempt on Lenin on August 30, 1918, a red terror was declared in the country—the most severe violence of the Bolsheviks carried out during the civil war against those accused of counter-revolutionary activities.

In particular, the guests visited the museum-memorial complex of the victims of political repression and totalitarianism in the village of Akmol, where the 17th labor camp, better known as the “Akmola camp of the wives of traitors of the Motherland,” operated from 1937 to 1953.

The visiting delegation offered prayers for the prisoners of the camp and for all Orthodox Christians who were persecuted and murdered “in the time of fierce persecution.”

The 17th labor camp was the largest women’s colony on the territory of Kazakhstan, holding wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters of people convicted as enemies of the people and traitors of the Motherland.

12 prisoners of the Akmola camp were canonized as New Martyrs by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in August 2000: Anna Antonova Vodolanova, Akilina Stepanova Dubovskaya, Natalia Fedorovna Kopitina, Alexandra Mikhailova Smolyakova, Irina Lavrentievna Gumenyuk, Ksenia Mikhailovna Radun, Martha Ivanovna Dudarenko, Domna Efimovna Vasilkova, Tatiana Ignatievna Kushnir, Natalia Semenovna Karikh, and Justina Matveena Melanich.

All but St. Justina were shot in 1942. She served out ten years in the prison as a confessor for Christ.

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