Just got this off Orthodox Forum. Sorry it's a bit dated.
Leader of the Old Believers
03 January 2004
Alexander Kapitonovich Gusev, priest: born Sormovo, Soviet Union 14 August
1929; ordained deacon 1966, priest 1985 (taking the name Alimpy);
Archbishop, later Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia 1986-2003; died
Moscow 31 December 2003.
For 17 years, Metropolitan Alimpy of Moscow and All Russia led the Old
Believers of the Bela Krinitsa Concord, the largest of the Russian Old
Believer groups who follow the Orthodox rites untainted by the reforms of
Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century. His Moscow base was the 200-year-old
cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God next to the Rogozhskoe
cemetery, which only narrowly escaped destruction by Stalin.
Alimpy's leadership began under the reforms of the Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev, when tight Soviet controls on religious life were lifted. He led
the church in an independent Russia, where the Old Believers struggled to
retain their identity against the renewed power of the Moscow Patriarchate,
which continues to give them scant recognition, and other faiths in the
religious free market.
Although a member of President Vladimir Putin's advisory Council for
Relations with Religious Associations, Alimpy failed to see the government
correct historic injustices. Despite his repeated protests, many Old
Believer churches and religious treasures confiscated by the Soviet regime
were handed to the Russian Orthodox Church.
He was born Alexander Gusev, one of six children in an Old Believer family
in a village in the Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky) region. The family had become
reasonably well-off through hard work as shoemakers, but their large house
had been confiscated after the Communists came to power. Moving to Lyskovo
on the Volga, the family secretly built a chapel at home after the mass
closure of churches in the 1930s. Alexander's sister Sofya died after
doctors refused to treat her for a serious illness when she refused to
remove her baptismal cross.
Gusev began work in 1946 as a buoy-keeper on local rivers before becoming a
fireman (the job he would return to in 1953 after his compulsory military
service in navy facilities on the Gulf of Finland). He was an eager
attender at the Old Believer church in Gorky, which had been reopened in
1945. But reaching the church was no mean feat. It was 35 miles skating
distance in winter from his village to reach the bus to Gorky itself.
In 1959 - when Nikita Khrushchev's persecution of the churches was
beginning - Gusev took his first post in the church as a reader. He moved
to a village near Kostroma to help out an elderly priest, but was given a
week to leave by the local religious affairs commissioner and he returned
Not until 1966 - after the end of the persecution - was he ordained deacon.
He served in the Gorky church for the next 20 years, until being ordained
priest on a visit to Moldavia in 1985. He was elevated in 1986 to the post
of Bishop of Klintsy and Rzhev in western Russia.
Shortly afterwards, a church council named him to head the church as
Archbishop of Moscow and all Russia, not without some help from the KGB,
which issued secret instructions that he was the "most acceptable candidate
for us". But the KGB had little choice: Alimpy was the only bishop young
and active enough to have led the church.
In 1988, during the 1,000-year anniversary celebrations of the conversion
of Kievan Rus to Christianity, the church named him the first-ever
Metropolitan, against the wishes of the Soviet authorities. In 1992 Alimpy
was able to welcome to Moscow the leaders of the Lipovan Old Believers from
20 countries, including Metropolitan Timon based in the Romanian city of
Braila, the first such meeting between the Russian and diaspora branches
for 70 years.
Despite condemning what he regarded as the "expansionism of non-traditional
faiths", Alimpy condemned the controversial Russian religion law adopted in
1997. He said it did little to restore historical justice for his church
and failed to respect the Old Believers as a "traditional faith".
Alimpy's last years were marred by an acrimonious split within the church,
which took its toll on his health. One bishop accused Alimpy of violating
church law by favouring his own brother, Fr Leonid Gusev, and other relatives.
Regarded as a passive leader, Alimpy failed to regain the place in society
for his church that many expected. He scornfully rejected calls by the
Orthodox patriarch Alexy for the Old Believers to "rejoin the bosom of the
Mother Church" and relations with the Orthodox remained cool, not to say
hostile. Alimpy likewise failed to reunite his church with other Old
Believer branches, including the priestless and the Novozybkov Old Believers.
A defiant non-intellectual and a man of simple tastes (he never ate meat),
Alimpy spent long hours in prayer. Despite advancing age he assiduously
visited his flock across Russia and the region.
-Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd