In 1943–1991, there were special state bodies in the USSR to control the observance of the legislation on religious cults. The Council for Religious Affairs (until 1965, the Council for Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church) played an important role in stabilizing the relationship of regional and local authorities with religious associations. The commissioners of the Council for Religious Affairs had wide powers in the implementation of the state religious policy. They made decisions on registration and de-registration of religious communities and clergy. In their daily activities, the commissioners solved many issues related to the activities of the Orthodox communities, bishops and clergy (such as monitoring of liturgies and sermons of bishops and clergy, performance of religious ceremonies and rituals, as well as personal life of clergy and churchwardens, prices for candles, and other objects of worship). They worked in close cooperation with the Council for Religious Affairs, regional and local authorities, law enforcement agencies (the militia and the KGB). Together they solved the tasks on the prevention and suppression of possible illegal actions of clergy and believers. Imperfect legislation on religious cults gave the commissioners the opportunity for abuse of power in combating manifestations of religiosity among local population. The Council for Religious Affairs and its commissioners in the regions fulfilled its function of a “buffer” in the church-state relations only partially. Due to totalitarian regime, they had to take the position of “militant atheism” and to eliminate religious beliefs.
Key words: state, Russian Orthodox Church, Council for Religious Affairs, commissioners, clergy, believers.