William Lahue (Russian Studies Program, College of William and Mary)
Smolensky cemetery is the oldest continuously operating cemetery in St. Petersburg. It is located on Vasilievsky island banking the Smolensk river to the North and Maly prospect to the South. It is divided into Lutheran, Orthodox, and Armenian sections. Over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries the cemeteries’ identities were closely linked with religious identities of communities living around it. In the 20th century after the October revolution new atheistic authorities wanted to close the cemetery and viewed this effort as part of their war on the old regime. The story of the cemetery in the twentieth century is the story of the communities with religious identities resisting the official atheistic ideology enforced by the state authorities. The post-Soviet story of the cemetery, especially of its Orthodox section, is about the Orthodox Church restoring its symbolic control over the cemetery. In the face of this transition of power and values the Goth subculture has emerged and asserted itself in dialogue with the new dominant ideology.