Country Profile



Russian identity is sometimes called “the Russian soul” by Russians. That demonstrates well the significance of the history of Christianity in the largest country in the world. Christianity came to Russia six centuries prior to the appearance of Luther’s 95 Theses, and Orthodox Christianity became the state religion. It remained so until 1917. During that period, the Orthodox Church played an important role in the history of the country. Other Christian confessions were either banned or restricted in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1917 after the Russian Revolution, the situation was radically changed. All religions were banned due to the new ideology of Marxism-Leninism, which proclaimed materialistic atheism as the only truth. Communists destroyed churches and other religious buildings; executed, exiled, or sent to labor camps religious leaders; flooded the schools and media with anti-religious teachings; and introduced a belief system called “scientific atheism.” According to sources, the total number of Christian victims under Soviet rule ranged from 12 to 20 million.

The Soviets organized widespread anti-religious propaganda. They were especially opposed to Evangelicals and Baptists (the word ‘Baptist’ still carries very strong negative connotations for many Russians). Communism severely persecuted any signs of Biblical faith. Some anti-religious campaigns were more intense, followed by “warming” periods. In the 1980s under the last USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the new political and social freedoms resulted in many church buildings being returned to the church, to be restored by local believers. Eventually, underground churches began to cautiously resurface, and the Russian Orthodox Church began to reassert itself.

In the transitional period that has followed, there has been relative freedom of religion. But since 1997, the law against “sects” has being increasingly enforced, which in effect outlaws any Christian group except the Orthodox Church. Restrictions based on law and prosecuted in the courts (including 159 cases in the last 12 month period for which statistics are available) are increasing year by year.

Current Situation

In April 2016, the “Yarovaya Law” was introduced in the Russian Parliament. Its purported goal was to increase public safety and prevent terrorism, yet it has become one of the most controversial Russian laws of the last decade. Until now many Russian organizations, both public and private, have continued to oppose its implementation, in an ongoing process that has led to some modifications of the initial measures.

The law prohibits Christians from evangelizing freely and restricts religious activities and discussions. Shortly following the passage of these laws, Christians, Christian ministers, foreign and national missionaries began to be prosecuted for engaging in their normal religious activities. Any preaching outside of a church building is considered missionary activity, and any persons wishing to share their faith with others must first receive permission from the government through a registered religious organization. That potentially forbids house churches.

Violators could face fines up to the equivalent of $780 USD for an individual and $15,500 USD for an organization. Foreign missionaries can be deported if they violate the law and speak in churches without a work permit.

The law imposes new obligations on operators of communication (such as phone and mobile phone service providers) and distributors of information via the internet (internet operators), which are required to start storing data on all communications and users’ activities, both data about such communication and the communication’s content itself. In addition to requirements about telephone records and online data encryption, the amendments also include text affecting missionary activity throughout Russia.

Since the passage of the Yarovaya Law, there has been a steady annual increase in the number of Protestants prosecuted in court. Even absurd applications of the Yarovaya Law throughout the country have taken place. For example, a medical student from Zimbabwe was deported for inviting her friends to a concert of African music in February. A Russian yoga teacher was arrested for “illegal missionary activity” while giving a talk about yoga philosophy at a festival. In the beginning of 2019, the Russian president issued a decree for the Supreme Court to analyze the application of the Yarovaya Law to anti-evangelism cases. Unfortunately, the survey issued by the Court has so far failed to resolve the controversial interpretation and application of the law as it relates to missionary activity. In the last twelve months for which data is available, a record 159 cases of anti-missionary prosecution took place under the Yarovaya Law.

National Flag [ 국기 ]
Population [ 인구 ]
141,722,205 (July 2020 est.)
Ethnicity [ 인종 ]
note: nearly 200 national and/or ethnic groups are represented in Russia’s 2010 census.
Religion [ 종교 ]
note: estimates are of practicing worshipers; Russia has large populations of non-practicing believers and non-believers, a legacy of over seven decades of official atheism under Soviet rule; Russia officially recognizes Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism as the country’s traditional religions  (2006 est.)
Leader [ 지도자 ]

President Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN (since 7 May 2012)

Government Type [ 정부형태 ]
Semi-presidential federation
Legal System [ 법적 체제 ]
Related Books [ 연관 서적 ]
Related Article [ 연관 기사 ]
Source [ 자료출처 ]
VOM Korea,
CIA World Factbook