The author proposes the edition of three documents preserved in the National Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan. The two first ones are reports by the blagochinnyi of the 3rd okrug of the uezd of Laishev, in the governorate of Kazan. (A blagochinie was an okrug containing several parishes.) They consist of annual reports by a blagochinnyi in whose okrug were living “natives (inorodtsy)” professing Islam or paganism. The first report (from 1901) depicts the abandon of a number of them, in several parishes, of Orthodoxy for Islam. According to the priest’s view, this phenomenon can be explained only by a permanent agitation of the Muslims, who had been permanently trying to ruin the ‘baptized (kreshchennye)’ Tatars’ trust in Russians in general, in the Orthodox priests in particular, which had resulted in a reinforcement of Islam among this population. The ‘recently baptized (novokreshchennye)’ Tatars had shown particularly sensitive to the Muslims’ pressure, since less firmly installed in the Christian faith. In the second report (from 1905) the same priest demonstrates that almost all the recently baptized Tatars from thirteenth parishes, as well as some anciently baptised had passed to Islam. Moreover the priests of these parishes had strong doubts about any future return of these faithful to Orthodoxy. One of the reasons provided for such a phenomenon is that the Tatars in general were not ready for baptism: They were only bearing Christian names, whilst “in their souls they were remaining Muslims.”
More interesting is the third document, an account (from 1907) by the well-known scholar and missionary Ia. Koblov answering to an inquiry of the Synod about apostasy in the governorates of Kazan and Viatka. Koblov sets out that the influence of paganism remains extremely strong in several uezds of the hieparchy of Viatka, where not only pagan natives (Maris and Udmurts), but also baptised people accomplish pagan rites. The same situation could be observed in uezds of the governorate of Kazan bordering the governorate of Viatka. Despite the relative weakness of paganism in this latter region, the attachment for its rituals is explained by the strength of kinship links between the natives of both governorates. However, the main threat, to Koblov’s eyes, is not paganism but Islam, which he also explains by the vigour of kinship ties between the natives of the two governorates—though in this case the influence goes from Kazan to Viatka. In his report, the missionary proposes a short digression on the history of apostasy in the territory of Kazan, and characterises the religious and ethic situation of the hieparchy’s pagan natives. According to him, the dramatic change occurred there in the aftermath of the Manifesto of 1905 on religious tolerance.
The editor of these documents stresses their free style, though they were written “for the use of service (dlia sluzhebnogo pol’zovaniia)” and not for publication. Their authors commonly recognise the failure of the attempts for returning the converted populations to Orthodoxy, and admit that the legislation adopted in 1905 could only confirm a de facto situation already known to the political authorities of the country.