The following article by Prof. Paul Goble appeared on his blog, Window on Eurasia.
Window on Eurasia: Soviets Able to Suppress Popular Christianity Only After Setting Up Loyal Orthodox Hierarchy, Commentator Says
Staunton, May 6 – In a conclusion with obvious implications for the current situation not only for the Russian Orthodox but also for other faiths, a Moscow commentator argues that the Soviets were unable to destroy popular Christianity by killing priests but succeeded in doing so after they had established a loyal and dependent Orthodox hierarchy.
As a result of Soviet anti-religious efforts in the 1920s, there were almost no Orthodox priests left in the country, the blogger “Tolkovatel'” writes in a post today, but the destruction of the priesthood “did not affect the religiosity of Soviet people.” It only drove it underground as various scholars have shown in recent years (ttolk.ru/?p=17016).
Lacking priests, members of the laity began to hold services, and as a result, throughout the USSR, there was “a wave” of sectarianism, with ever more self-proclaimed religious leaders proclaiming themselves prophets and preaching their own, often highly individualistic doctrines and practices, many of them highly eschatological.