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In the Decree of Separation of Church and State, and of School and Church in January 1918, the Soviet government established the separation of Church and State, transferred the registration of births, marriages and deaths to civil authority, prohibited instruction of religion in any school -- private or state, and forbade the ownership of private property by churches or religious associations because they did not possess the rights of juridical persons.
Further clarification of the execution of this decree, referred to as the instruction, was published in Izvestia in August 1918. The instruction included the following:
1. The management of all ecclesiastical property would be transferred to the local Soviets of Workmen-Peasants Deputies.
2. Representatives of the religious creed, who managed the church and other property, were required to submit, in triplicate, a list of all property intended for use in religious services to the local Soviet of Workmen-Peasants Deputies.
3. The deputies would take over the property and give it to the inhabitants of the same religious creed, who wanted to use the property. This group would be composed of at least 20 citizens, who must sign the agreement. The agreement provided that these 20 citizens were to maintain the "National Property" and to use it solely for satisfying religious needs. Further, they must prohibit in these buildings political meetings hostile to the Soviet government, the spreading or selling of literature hostile to the Soviet government, and sermons hostile to the Soviet Government. Maintenance of the Church required that the 20 citizens must see to the payment of taxes, insurance, repairs, etc. Additionally, they could not refuse any citizen, who was a co-religionist, the right to sign the agreement after the date of the agreement. Moreover, they must allow all citizens to be buried in church cemeteries. If all conditions were not fulfilled, the 20 citizens would be held criminally liable.
4. If the persons who managed the ecclesiastical property refused to do the above, the local Soviet of Workmen-Peasants Deputies would compile a list of the property in front of witnesses and turn it over to the group of 20 citizens of the religious creed; churches of historic, artistic and archaeological value would be transferred to the Museum Section of the Commissariat of Education; local citizens of the religious creed could sign the agreement, after the transfer, to participate in the administration of the ritual property.
5. If there were no local applicants to take over the building, the Comissariat of Education would determine the purpose for the use of the building; so called sacred items, not utilized in religious services, would be turned over to citizens responsible for religious items.
6. All other property of churches and religious associations, and abolished departments, such as schools and charitable institutions, would be immediately confiscated. This included all landed property, funds and profit-making investments.
7. Failure to turn over monies by the holder would result in a charge of civil and criminal embezzlement, and the illicit use of the property of the Republic would be a criminal offense.
8. The buildings of spiritual, educational and training establishments of any creed, as well as the building of the parish church schools should, as national property, be turned over to the local Soviets of Workmen-Peasants Deputies.
9. This decree prohibits the instruction in any creed in state, public and private educational institutions.