chapter  15
11 Pages


Some newly acquired territories and regions on the outskirts of the Russian Empire practiced other religions, but traditionally Russian villages were predominantly Orthodox. Even for Russia as a whole, by the early twentieth century 103.4 million people, or 65 percent of the entire population, considered themselves Russian Orthodox.1 Hence the pronounced changes of the Bolshevik Revolution that declared religion “the opium for the people” were not easy to implement. Many rural residents resented or even openly rebelled against attacks on their religious lives. Those who welcomed the change were predominantly males who were inspired by the promise to rid their loved ones of “religious oppression,” and younger women among the Komsomol workers. For a country where over 80 percent of its population was rural, breaking old religious ways was not an easy task to achieve. The new Soviet government fought a fully fledged war on religion, and the main opposition came from rural women. It was not until the collectivization campaigns that the antireligious propaganda started to bear some visible results, and even then the infamous babyi bunty took peasant women to the forefront of the opposition to the Soviet government.