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Gleb Pavlovich Yakunin (Russian: Глеб Павлович Якунин; born March 4, 1934) is Russian priest and dissident who fought for the freedom of conscience in the Soviet Union. He was member of Moscow Helsinki Group, and he was elected to Russian Parliaments from 1990 to 1999.
Gleb Yakunin was born into the family of a musician. He studied Biology at Irkutsk Agricultural Institute. He became a Christian at the end of the 1950s when he met Alexander Men. Yakunin graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1959. In August 1962 he was ordained a priest and was appointed to the parish church in the city of Dimitrov near Moscow.
In 1965, Yakunin wrote, together with priest Nikolai Eschliman, an open letter to the Patriarch of Moscow, Alexius I, where he argued that the Church must be liberated from the total control of the Soviet state. The letter was published samizdat ("self-published", i.e., underground press). In May 1966 he was forbidden to continue his priestly ministry in the parish. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn supported Gleb Yakunin and Nikolai Eschliman in his letter to Patriarch Alexius.
In 1976 he created the Christian Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers in the USSR. He published several hundreds of articles about the suppression of religious freedom in the Soviet Union. These documents were used by dissidents of all religious denominations. Yakunin was arrested and convicted for anti-Soviet agitation in 28 August 1980. He was kept in KGB Lefortovo prison until 1985, and then in a labor camp known as "Perm 37". Later, he was punished by involuntary settlement in Yakutia.
Gleb Yakunin was given amnesty in March 1987 under Mikhail Gorbachev. He was allowed to return to Moscow and worked again as a priest until 1992. He was rehabilitated in 1991. In 1990 Yakunin was elected to the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation and worked as deputy chairman the Parliamentary Committee for the Freedom of Conscience. He was co-author of the law concerning "The freedom of all denominations" that was used for the opening of churches and monasteries throughout the country.
Gleb Yakunin was a member of the committee created for the investigation of the Soviet coup attempt of 1991 and chaired by Lev Ponomaryov, and thereby gained the access to secret KGB archives. In March 1992 he published materials about the cooperation the Moscow Patriarchate with the KGB. He claimed that the code names of several high-rank KGB agents in the Orthodox Church were those of Patriarch Alexius II, Mitropolitans Filaret of Kiev, Pitrim of Volokolamsk, and others. The Russian church excommunicated Yakunin in 1993.
Gleb Yakunin was one of organizers of the democratic alliance "Choice of Russia" in 1993, prior to the opening of the Constituent Assembly of Russia called by Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. He became a State Duma delegate from the party "Democratic Russia" in 1996. He created the Committee for Defense of Freedom of Conscience in 1995. He criticized the law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" adopted by the Duma and made numerous statements in support of human rights in Russia.
As is traditional for Orthodox parish priests, Gleb Yakunin was married, and has three children: Maria, Alexander and Anna.
- Declaration of the Committee for Defense of Freedom of Conscience regarding the Russian State Duma's adoption of the draft of the law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations", 20-06-97
- Father Gleb Yakunin: Religion Law is a Step Backward for Russia
- Appeal of the Representatives of Russian Civil Society, November 15, 2005
- Gleb Yakunin, Lev Regelson: "Christians under communist rule: How Shall we Answer the Call?" Appeal at D. 5. Plenary assembly D. Ökumeni advice D. Churches. Faith in the Second World, Küsnacht, 1978
- Gleb Yakunin, Lev Regelson: Letters from Moscow: Religion and Human Rights in the USSR. Keston College, Keston/San Francisco, 1978
- Gleb Yakunin: O sovremennom polozhenii Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi i perspektivakh religioznogo vozrozhdeniya Rossii: Doklad Khristianskomu Komitetu zashchitu prav veruyushchikh v SSSR. Posev, Frankfurt am Main 1979
- Sergei Pushkarev, Vladimir Rusak, Gleb Yakunin: Christianity and Government in Russia and the Soviet Union: Reflections on the Millennium. Westview press, Boulder/London 1989, ISBN 0-8133-7524-X
- Biography and photo album of Gleb Yakunin (Russian)
- Interview with Portal-Credo.ru (Russian)
- Declaration on the church rights of Orthodox Communities and Eparchies (English)
Russian Orthodox Church
- Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, "The Sword and the Shield", Chapter 28, The Penetration and Persecution of the Soviet Churches, 1999
- Russia: the Orthodox Church and the Kremlin's New Mission - by Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, April 10, 2006.
- Russia: Introduction of Religious Curriculum Studied, RFE/RL, September 7, 2006
- Letter by David Satter
- Chekists in Cassocks: The Orthodox Church and the KGB - by Keith Armes
- The Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Aleksii II and the Russian State: An Unholy Alliance? - by Leslie L. McGann
- The Battle for the Russian Orthodox Church - by Vladimir Moss
- The Orthodox Church at the End of the Millenium, 1990-2000 by Vladimir Moss
- The Betrayal of the Church - by Edmund W. Robb and Julia Robb, 1986
- The Yakunin vs. Dvorkin Trial and the Emerging Religious Pluralism in Russia - by Marat S. Shterin and James T. Richardson
- "U.S. Food Aid Through Patriarchate May Be Abused, Priest Says; Distributor Tied to Illegal Activity & Trafficking in Parts of Unborn Babies" - by Russia Reform Monitor No. 584, February 11, 1999