Azerbaijani village Ivanovka offers window onto past

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In 1834 members of the Molokan religious community set up home in a rural area of Azerbaijan.Families settled there after being exiled from Russia for breaking away from the rules of the Russian Orthodox Church. Their descendants still speak Russian and keep up Russian traditions.

Ivanovka village is well known in Azerbaijan. Locals speak Azeri but their mother tongue is Russian. Every child knows their history. Catherine the Great exiled them from Russia and after wandering for many years they finally found what they call their ‘heaven on Earth’.

“They did not accept the idea of icons; they only prayed directly to God,” says Matvei Ermolov, Ivanovka, a village elder. “So Catherine ordered the Molokan faithful to be exiled from Russia. That’s how it started; they moved around a lot.”

In their traditional ‘praying house’ there are no icons, no candles, no decoration and no priests. Euronews was granted rare permission to film their prayers.

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