ally. An almost identical religious heritage had long given Russia and Bulgaria a feeling of brotherhood. There were many, too, who felt truly indebted to the Russians for the part they had played in breaking Bulgaria's subservience to the Turkish yoke in 1878 and were not hostile to their new masters.
The creation in 1870 of the Bulgarian exarchate played a key role in the establishment of a Bulgarian identity. The Soviets were astute enough to maintain it in existence, even when they abolished the monarchy in 1946. They facilitated its promotion to patriarchal status in 1953, reckoning that this would provide them with an instrument of foreign policy. Thus the Kremlin could exploit the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in its aim of sovietising the Bulgarian people.
This did not save the Bulgarian Church from repression, however. There was the inevitable law decreeing the separation of church and state, but evidently the church had not become subservient enough to suit the Soviet overlords and a period of antireligious repression followed (1948-52). The head ofthe church, Exarch Stefan, was exiled to a remote village. In 1952 he smuggled a message to his people, reminding them of their religious heritage and condemning other church leaders still in power for failing to defend him. He died in 1957, and this did indeed lead to a period where the church leadership did the bidding ofthe Communist Party.
Repression of the church was an essential element in the imposition of a Soviet model on Romania. In 1948 the adoption of the Law on Religious Confessions enabled the Communist Party to take control of the largest Orthodox community outside the Soviet Union. This law established state control over episcopal appointments, ensured strong Communist Party representation in the holy synod, and imposed a new statute on the Romanian Orthodox Church, centralising its administration under its patriarch. All church property was nationalised and the Uniate Church was forcibly united with the Orthodox Church by Decree no. 358 /1948. The spiritual leaders of the Jewish community and of various Protestant churches were imprisoned or exiled, while Orthodox and Uniate priests and bishops who refused to collaborate became one of the largest groups of political prisoners.
Following the Hungarian uprising in 1956, a new period of terror began when the Decree no. 318/1958, defining new crimes punishable by death, was
9 This section (to p. 567) is the work of Dr Alex Popescu.
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