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Religion in Russia


The Russian Federation has a population density of 8 residents per km2, but the population is unevenly distributed; the northern two-thirds of the country has only 0.9 residents per km2. According to Countryaah data, the majority of the population (74 percent) live in cities, and the majority in one of the country's fifteen million cities (see table).

Religions of RussiaThe natural growth rate of the population has gradually decreased during the post-war period and turned into a population decline during the 1990s. Mortality among men has also been a contributing factor to maintaining the oblique gender distribution from the Second World War. To this is added a certain regional relocation, which has primarily meant a growing urbanization. During the Soviet period, migration was controlled by a system of administrative restrictions (mainly domestic passports and residence permits), which have been partially preserved after the dissolution of the Union. Ethnically, the Russian Federation is characterized by great diversity.

Religions of Russia


Although the Russian Federation is far less linguistically inconsistent than the Soviet Union, and the majority of the population has Russian as their mother tongue, there are a significant number of linguistic minorities, many of whom have their own autonomous republics or territories. In these, the respective minority languages are used as official in addition to Russian, which is the official language of the federation. The number of speakers of the minority languages is difficult to estimate, as a transition to Russian is gradually taking place in many areas, and bilingual or multilingualism is widespread.

The minority languages represent a number of different language families. In the European Russian Federation, several Finno-Ugric languages ​​are spoken, such as Karelian, Komi, Mari, Kurdish and Vepsi. The Uralic language family is also represented by the Samoan languages (eg Nentsic) in the north. Among the Altaic languages, which are spoken in both the European and Asian parts of the Russian Federation, there are both Turkish (Bashkiric, Jakutic, Tatar, Chuvash, etc.) as well as Mongolian (Burjatic) and Manchu-Tongan languages (evenki).

Tatar is by far the largest minority language in the Russian Federation, with about 5 million speakers, but also Bashkir and Chuvash are spoken by over 1 million people. In the Russian part of the Caucasus, a large number of Northwest and Northeast Caucasian languages are spoken (especially in Dagestan), but also eg. Ossetian (an Indo-speaking language).

Within the Russian Federation, there have traditionally been significant groups that speak languages such as Yiddish, Polish and German, but as a result of political persecution and forced relocations, the number has been greatly reduced. Most of the main languages of the former Soviet republics are also represented in the Russian Federation with larger or smaller groups of speakers.


On pre-Christian religion in Russia, see Slavs (Religion) and Finno-Ugric religions.

Russian Orthodox Church has dominated since the Middle Ages. From this, in the 1600s, were the old believers who formed special societies. Due to the kingdom's expansion, some Roman Catholic dominated areas were incorporated. Among the Catholics there was a large group of Byzantine rites (compare Ukrainian Catholic Church). The Siberian peoples, with their various indigenous religions, went to a large extent to the Orthodox Church. In Russia there have also been a significant number of Muslims and also Buddhists (Kalmucker). Protestant movements reached west from here; the Baptists in particular received widespread use. On Russian soil, a number of extreme sects also appeared without equivalents in other countries. Skoptsy.

During the communist period, religion was strongly suppressed; relief came first through Gorbachev's reforms in the late 1980s. After the introduction of religious freedom, the situation is characterized by a strong - partly inexplicable and chaotic - renaissance for various religious groups, including neo-religious and esoteric movements.

With its diversity of ethnic groups, the Russian Federation is a multireligious society, where, however, the Russian majority is generally oriented towards the Russian Orthodox Church. However, the new freedom has opened up for a strong activity also among evangelical free churches (mainly Baptists and Pentecostal friends), often supported from the West with personal and financial resources. The Roman Catholic Church has also increased its activity, and a Catholic Archbishop was inaugurated in 1991. Through the relocation during the Soviet period, there are a large number of Muslims (mainly Sunnis) in the country. Buddhist groups are noticeable in the Faro-Asiatic areas, mainly in Burjatia. The Jewish communities have also received a renaissance, despite the great emigration to Israel in recent years.

The position of the Russian Orthodox Church has been partially strengthened by nationalist currents, while criticism of some church leaders' adaptation during the Soviet period has occurred, causing parishes to break out of the official church. At the same time, the past persecution and recognition of the many martyrs during the Soviet empire are underway. The increased activity among evangelical communities and other Western movements has led to strong reactions from the Russian Orthodox Church; a new law has been passed that bans "non-historical" communities. However, the practical application of the law is unclear. The Russian Orthodox Church continues its ecumenical work, although there have at times been strong tensions with the Catholic Church, especially when it was reorganized in Russia. The Orthodox Church strongly rejects what it calls "proselytism"; all attempts to intrude on its territory. There have also been strong links between the Orthodox Church and nationalist movements.

After the Soviet era, the Orthodox Church has undergone an astonishing transformation. Hundreds of churches have been restored or rebuilt, e.g. The Savior Cathedral in Moscow, which was demolished on Stalin's orders. Monasteries from the time before the revolution that were kept closed have been resettled, including Valamo monastery on an island in Ladoga. When the remnants of the tsar family were brought to St. Petersburg in 1998 and buried there, it took place in the solemn church forms. From being a suppressed and sometimes forbidden movement, the church has become an unidentified Russian factor of identity and a large part of the population profess to be Orthodox.

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