As we know, the Soviet system was not kind to religious people despite it’s founding laws. There were various periods in Soviet history when religion was actively suppressed and then loosened. As can be seen from a more detailed view from the Library of Congress here and from an interesting anti-religious point of view that defends Marxism here. As you can see, what a constitution says and what a state does can be dramatically different. Father Ciszek, an American Jesuit, had always wanted to serve as a priest in Russia. He was ordained in 1937 and in 1938 managed to be sent to Poland. During Hitler’s aggressive World War II years the Russians and Nazis carved up Poland. Father Ciszek had reached his goal, but unfortunately the Soviets sentenced to 15 years in prison for being a “Vatican Spy.” After years in the famed Lubianka prison in Moscow, he was sent to Norilsk in Siberia where he spent his remaining prison time in various Gulags. There were several Gulag uprisings that took place in 1953. He describes a final assault at his prison by solders:
Troops mounted on trucks roared through the gate, firing as they came…..Our hearts were in our mouths….We watched some prisoners, as they were herded into groups, kill themselves by ripping their bodies open with knives.
He was released in 1953 a free man, but not free enough to chose even where he was to live. He was not allowed to leave the country, and lived for years as a Soviet citizen with limited rights. He managed to administer to Russian citizens in various cities of Siberia after his release, Norilsk being the first. Wherever he was told to live, he began his priestly duties however he could; a friendly family giving their home and risking social devaluation. He took over for another priest in a temporary hovel. He was always being watched by the MVD (Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del) the Interior Ministry, and regularly ordered to report for interrogations.
Link (here) to The Catholic Stand