PC:  Public domain

PC: Public domain

Vladimir Shelkov

Arrested by Stalin’s police in 1931 and confined to prisons and labor camps in conditions of extreme brutality for most of the rest of his life, Shelkov (1895-1980) was the leader of the True and Free Seventh-day Adventists—a group of dissidents who refused to bear arms and who stood in radical opposition to the Soviet state. Shelkov was a deeply learned man who defended pacifism by quoting from the Church Fathers Origen and Tertullian. He formed close ties with other human rights activists and was admired by Andrei Sakharov. A Jewish fellow-prisoner in Siberia, Avraam Shifrin, described him as a man with “an intense, expressive face” whose eyes “were dark and peaceful and literally radiated tenderness.” According to Shifrin, “Shelkov’s entire guilt lay in his rejection of war.” Shelkov paid dearly for his “bloodless fight” for human rights. Frail in body but resilient in spirit, he died in prison in 1980 with the authorities refusing to deliver warm cloths brought for him by his daughter.

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