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Dmitry Dudko, at 82; Russian Orthodox priest

MOSCOW -- The Rev. Dmitry Dudko, an Orthodox priest who fought against Soviet atheism and served time in a Stalin-era camp, died Monday in Moscow, the Moscow Patriarchate said yesterday.

Father Dudko became a mentor for many of the Russian capital's intellectuals in the 1970s, when he openly sermonized on Christianity in the officially atheist Soviet state.

At that time, under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, religious speeches were considered anti-Soviet propaganda. The voice of the Russian Orthodox Church was timid, but Father Dudko preached via Western radio stations, published his books abroad, and gathered followers in private apartments.

In his sermons, Father Dudko spoke of godlessness as the root of such social ills as alcoholism and the decline of morals and family values. The Soviet authorities considered such an approach to be anti-Soviet propaganda, and in 1980, Father Dudko was arrested.

"I never fought against the authorities," Father Dudko said later. "I fought against godlessness, which was evil for both people and power."

That was his second arrest. In 1948, while a student at the Moscow Theological Academy, Father Dudko was arrested after authorities said his religious poetry contained anti-Soviet propaganda, as well. He spent eight years in a labor camp on that charge.

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