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Orthodox Dissidence as De-Atomization: Father Dmitrii Dudko and His Battle with Razobshchennost’

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On June 20, 1980, after more than five months of imprisonment, grueling interrogation, and emotional anguish, Fr. Dmitrii Dudko appeared on Soviet television and disavowed his earlier “anti-Soviet” statements. Dudko’s televised repudiation of his activities appeared to put the last nail in the coffin of an Orthodox dissident movement, which had shown promise as a political opposition to the Soviet state. Based on the case of Fr. Dmitrii, this article advances the idea that the characterization of the movement in political terms misrepresents the motives of its participants. Far from dismissing the political implications of the churchmen’s actions, the article, building on Fr. Dmitrii’s expressed struggle with razobshchennost’ (social atomization or isolation), explains his “dissidence” on its own terms, while considering its consequences and potential threat to the Soviet state. Seeking to grasp some of the nuance of the Orthodox dissident movement in the Soviet Union, this article employs the paradigm of atomization, de-atomization, and re-atomization to connect the religiously motivated activities of Fr. Dmitrii Dudko with the political implications of his actions for the Soviet state.

Affiliations: 1: Bridgewater State University,


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