The Lake Peipsi area



The Folk Culture Centre

The Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA)



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(Estonian Varnja; Voronye) is an old Russian fishermen village on the Lake Peipus shore. The first written evidence on it is from 1582. The village of Varanya in Kavastu manor was the center of the Prichudye Old Believers of the Fedoseyan concord (soglasie). In 1785, a large wooden worship house was consecrated here. In the 1820s, Ivan Nikitin, who was considered the eldest among the Old Believers of Dorpat district (uezd), was the preceptor of the Varanya community. There were about 350 Old Believers from different estates and about hundred state peasants in the village by 1833. In the mid-19th century, Old Believer preceptors, Ivan Nikitin included, were charged of re-baptizing of the Orthodox believers into the old faith. In 1841, a local resident Sidor Ivanovich Kutkin testified against Nikitin and called the people of the village not to trust christening of their children to him. Nikitin was brought to trial and recruited as a soldier for dissemination of heresy among the Varanya residents. There were about 600 members in the community by 1871.

By the turn of the 20th century, the worship house became dilapidated. On S. Fomin's initiative, the province architect V. Schilling was hired by the community to make a project of a new worship house. Instead of the old wooden worship house, the new brick church was built. It was consecrated on June 15, 1903. The church was rather unusual since its foundation was fixed by rafts on the shifting shore. Five-tier iconostasis was painted by the icon painter F. Myznikov. After the revolution of 1905, Varanya Old Believers participated in the Old Believers' congresses. A preceptor Karp Tikhonovich Krasovsky took part, as the representative of the community, of the Northwest Area Old Believers' Congress in Vilnius in 1906. There were 700 members of the community in 1916. A Varanya peasant Simeon Feodorovich Kuznetsov (born 1870) served as a preceptor for more than 40 years. At this time, literacy among the local Old Believers was spreading. In 1913, a one-year ministry school started its work.

In 1917, the number of Varanya inhabitants was about 1000. They dealt with fishing and market-gardening. Three fourth of them were Russian, predominantly Old Believers. In the independent Estonian Republic, the Varanya Old Believer community was registered in 1924 (Varnja Old Believer Society, 25. 11. 24. Nr.1915), and then re-registered in 1926 and 1936 (Varnja Old Believer Society 6.03.26. Nr. 3; Varnja Old Believer Religious Society of the Lake Peipus area municipality; reg. Nr. 109).

The Varanya Old Believers had a large stone worship house. In 1930, the number of parish members was about 920. The preceptor was S. Kuznetsov, as before. Y. Kuznetsov was elected the chairman of the community council, T. Gamzin - the secretary of the community.

The 7th Old Believer Congress of the Union of the Old Believer Church of Estonia, which took place on October 19 and 20 of 1930 and was attended by honorable guests from Poland and Latvia, was a remarkable event.

In the Soviet time, Ivan Fedorovich Kashev (died in 1969), Artemi Ignatyevich Bulanov (1970-1971) and later Dmitri Artemyevich Vavilov (1971-1987) were preceptors. The community life fall into decay at the time. The renaissance began in the mid-1990s. The family club was opened in the building of the former post office. The museum of the Old Believer everyday life and culture was founded. On June 15, 2003, the 100-year anniversary of the Varanya church was commemorated. Many community members as well as guests were present. Matvei Korobov, Makar Kutkin and Trofim Redkin guided the church procession (krestnyi khod). Until recently, Vasili Akinfievich Remets (died in 2005) was the community preceptor. Zoya Ivanovna Kutkina is the chairwoman of the community council.

Sources: EHA, f. 291, series 1, record 16584 Об устройстве новой молельни в Воронье и в Муствеэ 1865-67; f. 291, series 8, record 639. О распространении ереси в деревне Вороньи мещанином Сидором Куткиным; series 8, record 1909. О надзоре над воронейскими раскольниками 1856. Record 1918. Об оскорблении раскольниками православной; f. 296, series 9, record 498, 501 Сведения о раскольниках в д. Воронья, Кикита, Казепе и Красные горы Дерптского у. 1870;1871; f. 384, series 1, record 2323 (Об оборудовании здания Воронейского одноклассного министерского училища 1913-1915); f. 330, series 1, record 2482 (Метрика 1873-1893); record 1925 (1910-15); LHA f. 3, series 1, record 1376, 1524; series 10, record 274, 368.

References: И-ръ. Крупные центры Причудья. Воронья // Вести дня. 1932. 5 марта. № 55. С. 2. Гришаков В. Л. Старообрядческому храму в деревне Варанья - 100 // Меч духовный. Июль, август, сентябрь, 2003, с. 5; Nuust, Vallo. Vanausu Varnja puhakoda tahistas sajandat sunnipaeva // Tartu Postimees. 17.06.2003. Очерки по истории и культуре староверов Эстонии. 1. Тарту, 2004. С. 131-143.

Galina Ponomaryova, Tatjana Shor