POPULATION142,517,670 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$17,000 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSRussian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.) note: estimates are of practicing worshipers; Russia has large populations of non-practicing believers and non-believers, a legacy of over seven decades of Soviet rule
ALSO IN EUROPE AND RUSSIAAlbania
AT THE CENTER
Why Religious Freedom? International Perspectives on China, Russia, and Central Europe (Full Screen)
Religion in Russia has undergone a revitalization since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Russian Orthodox Church developed symbiotically with the emergent Russian state during the medieval and early modern periods, becoming a pillar of the Tsarist regime that governed the country until the early 20th century. The Russian Revolution of 1917 severed this close relationship. The ensuing Communist government of the Soviet Union aimed to reduce the power of churches and ultimately eliminate religion from society. This goal was pursued aggressively but inconsistently by Joseph Stalin (1924-53) and to a lesser extent by his successors. The end of Communism in 1991 brought about a gradual mending of the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the government. Today, the Russian Constitution maintains the separation of church and state and grants freedom of religion, but critics point to persistent discrimination against minority faiths, including Muslims, many of whom live in regions like Chechnya, where Russia waged two wars (1994-96, 1999-2009) against a separatist movement.