Biography of Father Akop Bakaratian

Born in Batum province in 1872. Graduated from the Theological Seminary and Theological Academy and was ordained a priest of the Armenian Rite. He became the Apostolic Administrator for Armenian Rite Catholics in the USSR. Upon the decision of Bishop Michel D’Herbigny, a clandestine emissary of the Pope, Father Akop was to be consecrated a bishop of the Kukussky Latin Rite (in Armenia) by Bishop Pius Neveu, so that he would have the right to ordain priests of the Armenian and Latin rites. January 11, 1928 – he had been advised by Father Karol Łupinowicz that this would be the day of his episcopal consecration, but he was unable to make it to Moscow because the GPU would not allow him to leave Tiflis. February 17, 1930 – he informed Bishop Neveu that he could not fulfill his duties without permission of the authorities. In 1930 the authorities convoked a “staged” convention of Armenian Catholics, at which they accused Father Akop of “crimes against the Soviet regime that brought harm to the Catholic Church.” In the summary of the meeting it was said that “… as for verbal attacks on the Soviet Union in western countries, one must to a great extent blame Bakaratian, who, over the course of several years, has provided the Holy See with information that is fallacious, outrageous slander about the purported existence of religious persecutions here.” The second “crime” attributed to Father Akop was the “organization of counter-revolutionary propaganda with the aid of graft from missionaries, disciples of the Roman Propagation [of the Faith].” Under pressure and blackmail on the part of the GPU, the convention deprived Father Akop of the rights of Administrator of the Armenian Catholic Church. Under the threat of terror, the clergy gathered at the convention adopted a resolution that withdrew the “false accusations against the Soviet Government of religious intolerance,” as a result of which the Holy See lost the opportunity to properly orient itself with respect to the situation of believers in the USSR. March 27, 1930 – Father Akop was arrested, but not long before his arrest he had managed to convey his powers to Father Karapat Diliurgian. He was sent to Moscow for further investigation and imprisoned at Butyrka. The main charge against him was “transmittal of baseless information about persecutions of Catholics in the USSR.” In the summer of 1930 he was sentenced under Articles 58-6 and 58-10 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to ten years in corrective labor camps and was sent to the Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp, where he arrived September 1. In 1931 he was transferred to Anzer Island where, on July 5, he was arrested in a case against Catholic clergy accused of “creating an anti-Soviet group that was carrying out anti-Soviet agitation, secretly celebrating liturgy and religious rituals and had established illegal contact with a free person for transmitting abroad information of an espionage nature about the situation of Catholics in the USSR.” The investigators petitioned for a “conditional early release.” He was transported as an invalid from Solovki to Kuzema Station on the Kirov Railroad, where he died in February 1936 at the age of sixty-four (exact date of death unknown). Source: Dzwonkowski (1998), pp. 148-149; Osipova (1996), p. 148; Reznikova, p. 5; Investigatory Matter 590614, Central Archive, FSB, Russian Federation; Archive of the Directorate of the FSB, Republic of Karelia.
Variant Names:
Bakarat'i︠a︡n, Akop Danielovich; Bakaratian, Akop
Batumi (Georgia); Armenia; Moscow (Russia)
male; clergy and religious; died in prison