Orthodox America

  Tatyana Shchipkova

"The race is on, and, it is now only a question of who shall come in first--death or blindness." With these words Tatyana Shchipkova reveals the price she is now paying for confessing Christ.

After holding a post as lecturer at the Smolensk Pedagogical Institute, Tatyana Shchipkova was arrested and sentenced on Jan. 8, 1980 to 3 years' detention in labor camp. This came after several years of surveillance and harassment which began when it was discovered that she was a member of the Christian Seminar. "These were meetings of Orthodox youth, Whose discussions and arguments gave me that which I had never found at academic conferences or over the tea-cups in the homes of my respectable friends: the warmth of Christian contact, unhampered freedom of thought in the field of spirituality...',

In 1978 Tatyana Shchipkova's apartment was searched and among the materials confiscated were copies of a new journal published by the Seminar. This was enough evidence not only to have her dismissed from the Institute on charges of spreading religious propaganda among students, but also to strip her of her advanced degree on grounds of "unscientific conduct." Only a few years previous to her dismissal, her doctoral thesis had received the highest praise and she was given an excellent character reference from the Institute where she was loved and respected by students and colleagues alike. Anticipating her dismissal, Tatvana had openly announced to her students that she was a Christian. Prior to this her religious "propaganda" had consisted of reading from the New Testament in the context of a course on ancient culture.

In February 1979, a party of plainclothesmen and militia rudely interrupted a meeting of the Seminar. When one of these men seized Tatyana and wrenched her arm in an effort to get a notebook she was holding, Tatyana retaliated by slapping his face. This was conveniently interpreted as "malicious hooliganism" which, under Article 206--2 of the Criminal Code, carries a sentence of deprivation of freedom from 1-5 years.

Before her arrest Tatyana had already been suffering from severe headaches and deteriorating eyesight which, just prior to her trial, had been diagnosed as glaucoma. She is receiving no treatment for the glaucoma and, since being in the camp, has contacted dysentery. Tatyana Shchipkova is 51 years old with a son and daughter.