The Persecutor book cover
|Publisher||Fleming H. Revell Company (Baker Publishing Group)
Revell (Baker Publishing Group)
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
The Persecutor, also known as Forgive Me Natasha and less commonly as Sergei, is the autobiography of Sergei Kourdakov, a former KGB agent who persecuted Christians in the Soviet Union in the 1970s, but defected to Canada in 1971 and converted to Evangelical Christianity. The book was finished shortly before his death in January 1973 and published posthumously.
It was published in English, then translated to at least fourteen languages including German, Spanish, French, Russian, and Dutch. Although the English versions have since ceased publication, various foreign-language versions are still in print.
The Persecutor details Sergei Kourdakov's early life in Novosibirsk Oblast, his life as an orphan, the raids he led on private Christian assemblies while a Naval academy student in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, his defection to Canada, and his new life in Canada and the United States. The book opens with Kourdakov's escape to Canada. Beginning with the second chapter, the book flashes back to Kourdakov's childhood.
Although largely accepted, The Persecutor has been met with varied criticism regarding its authorship and accuracy. Some, such as Albert W. Wardin, believe that the biography was at least partially written by members of Underground Evangelism, the Christian organization which Kourdakov was a member of that helped smuggle Bibles into communist countries. Wardin also claims that the book gives a distorted view of evangelical life in the Soviet Union, stating that "the allegation that for years before the late 1960s there was not even one Protestant church in Novosibirsk is untrue" and that "the figure of 30,000 Initiative Baptists in Kamthatka [...] and that of over 150 attacks in two years seems unbelievably high."
In 2004, United States Christian journalist Caroline Walker released a drama documentary about The Persecutor. Claiming to have been given a vision from God, she traveled to Siberia to investigate various parts of book. Through the film, she claims that contrary to her own expectations, there are many inconsistencies in the autobiography, such as the section dealing with Sergei's experience in the Barysevo Orphanage as a child. The documentary, titled Forgive Me, Sergei (a pun on the autobiography title), was co-produced and directed by Polish Jesuit Damian Wojciechowski, whom she met during her investigation. He was also attempting to film a documentary on Kourdakov's life, but was struggling with inconsistencies in the book.
"On the first film shoot, I recognized that the book was much further from the truth than what I had first thought and might simply be fiction."— Damian Wojciechowski
The documentary received multiple awards at film festivals.
Notes and references
- Diebel, Linda (June 19, 1972). "Political refugee turns evangelist – Russian deplores loss of God here". The Gazette (Montreal). Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- Parrish, Michael (1992). Soviet Security and Intelligence Organizations 1917-1990: A Biographical Dictionary and Review of Literature in English. ABC-CLIO. p. 544. ISBN 0-313-28305-2.
- Marilyn and John Schreiber. "Sergei Kourdakov Article #1". Retrieved 2009-11-02.
- Publisher's Note: Kourdakov, Sergei (1973). The Persecutor. Fleming H. Revell Company. p. 253. ISBN 0-8007-0631-5.
- Published as Vergib mir Natascha. Trillin, Calvin (May 5, 1973). "US Journal: Southern California". The New Yorker: 89–96.
- Published as El Esbirro. "El esbirro; Sergei Kourdakov". Retrieved 2009-11-02.
- Published as Pardonne-moi Natacha. "Livre : Pardonne-moi Natacha. Sergei Kourdakov, Marc Fromager - 9782843782978". Retrieved 2009-11-02.
- Published as Прости меня, Наташа.
- Published as Vergeef mij, Natasja!. "Vergeef mij, Natasja! Sergei Kourdakov: ikoopjes.be". Retrieved 2009-11-02.
- Wardin Jr., Albert W. (1974). "The Persecutor". Journal of Church and State. 16 (2): 346.
- "Forgive Me, Sergei". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
- "Forgive Me, Sergei - Irony of a 70th Year Anniversary Celebration". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
- "Forgive Me, Sergei - Director". Retrieved 2010-04-25.
- "Forgive Me, Sergei - Awards & Nominations". Retrieved 2010-04-19.