The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Popovtsy), one of the two sects of Old Believers that developed in the late 17th century.

In contrast to priestlessness, or bespopovshchina, followers of popovshchina acknowledged the authority of priests and created their own church organization, which later split into a number of concords, including the Beglopopovtsy, or fugitive priests, and those who accepted the authority of the priests of the Belo-krinitsk or Belovodsk hierarchies. Opposition to the state was less pronounced among the Popovtsy than among the Bespopovtsy. The former had closer ties to the country’s ruling elite, although class contradictions also existed among them and contributed to their disintegration into various sects.

In the 18th and 19th centuries most of the Popovtsy lived on the island of Vetka, along the Sozh River, along the Irgiz River, in Starodub, or in Nizhny Novgorod Povince at the Kerzhenets hermitages. From the late 18th to early 19th centuries, the spiritual center of popovshchina was in Moscow near the Rogozhskoe cemetery. Wealthy capitalists played a leading role in popovshchina. In the early 19th century many of the Popovtsy recognized the authority of the Orthodox Synod and were called Dissenters (Edinovertsy). The Popovtsy reacted with hostility toward the October Revolution of 1917. The number of Popovtsy is extremely small.


Smirnov, P. S. Istoriia russkogo raskola staroobriadstva, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1895.
Makarov, V. E. Ocherk istorii Rogozhskogo kladbishcha ν Moskve. Moscow, 1911.
Nikol’skii, N. M. Istoriia russkoi tserkvi, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.