Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Novoe Vremya
October 14, 2001
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]

In Russia, a country which had formerly been almost completely atheist, over half of citizens have identified themselves as believers during the past decade.

The percentages haven't changed much over the last few years: polls show 51% Orthodox Christians, around 2% other branches of Christianity, 3% for Islam, 0.5% for Judaism, 0.5% other religions, 34% atheists, and 10% agnostics.

There isn't much correlation between religious belief and educational levels, although the proportion of believers is over 60% among the minority of people with an incomplete high school education. Religious belief is correlated with age: 67% believers among people over pension age, 47-48% believers among those aged 18 to 35. Religious belief is much more widespread among women, with 64% of women identifying as believers, compared to only 40% of men.

Contrary to common assumptions, rural residents are not significantly more religious than urban residents. However, religious belief differs substantially between regions, with 66% believers in the Trans-Volga area of Russia, compared to only 44% in north-western Russia. Belief is not strongly correlated with income levels; 60% believers among low-income groups, and 49% among people who are comfortably off.

Based on a number of polls, 19% of respondents say they were members of the Communist Party in Soviet times. Now, however, only about 1.5% of Russian citizens are members of any political party at all; of this 1.5%, over 60% are members of the Communist Party. A look at the ideological legacy reveals the following picture. The poll question was: "Which ideas would now be capable of uniting the Russian people?" Thirteen percent of respondents named communism and socialism; only 3% named religion; 7% named capitalism and a market economy; and 6% named democracy.

The concept of Russia's uniqueness as a nation, which goes through periods of popularity, was named by only 5% of respondents as a unifying idea. Around the same number, 6%, named Russia's role as a mediator between Europe and Asia. But the strongest response, 35%, was in favor of "the revival of Russia as a mighty global power".

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