Last week, Fr. Oliver Herbel wrote a series of articles on the 1909 criminal libel trial involving Archimandrite (later Archbishop) Arseny Chagovtsov, who is currently being considered for canonization by the OCA. Fr. Oliver’s summary may be found at the following links:
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – the Prosecution
- Part 3 – the Defense begins
- Part 4 – the Defense concludes
- Part 5 – Addendum
Keep in mind, Arseny was not the one on trial. The defendants were in charge of Svoboda, a Uniate (Greek Catholic) journal which had accused Arseny of rape. The trial focused on whether the defendants had committed criminal libel. As with most libel suits, this led to a serious scrutiny of Arseny himself, since, if he was guilty of rape, the defendants could not be guilty of libel. But, to keep things straight, remember that the prosecutor is pro-Arseny, and the defense is pro-Svoboda.
If you haven’t done so already, I would strongly encourage you to read Fr. Oliver’s summary articles before digging into the whole trial transcript. Also, please note Fr. Oliver’s words from his fourth article: “ The transcript itself ends with an adjournment due to the illness of juror number six. The court adjourns for a week and then there is nothing.” This is very strange, and we continue to investigate the whole affair. But, in the interests of transparency and to allow the public to come to its own conclusions, we are making the source documents available to all, immediately.
The transcript is very large, and we have broken it into six parts to make for more convenient downloading. Click on the following links to download the transcript:
And finally, to give credit where it is due, Fr. Oliver is the one who tracked down the transcript. He sent a hard copy to my office, where we had it digitized and then sent to Fr. Andrew Damick, who uploaded it to OrthodoxHistory.org. It was a team effort, but in the end, it was Fr. Oliver’s research that got this thing done.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]