The section of the Russian Orthodox Church which refused to accept the liturgical reforms of the Patr. Nikon. They were excommunicated in 1667 and persecuted. As no bishops seceded, they were left without a hierarchy and split into two sections: the one, called ‘Popovtsy’, sought means of establishing their own priesthood; the other, the ‘Bezpopovtsy’, denied its necessity. In 1846 a deposed bishop joined the Popovtsy and established a hierarchy. The anathemas imposed on the Old Believers in 1667 were lifted by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1971, but the schism has not been healed.