07MOSCOW1339, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN RUSSIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1339 2007-03-27 14:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6502
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1339/01 0861427
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271427Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8661
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001339 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2017 
TAGS: KIRF PHUM PGOV RS
SUBJECT: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN RUSSIA 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel Russell: Reason 1.4(d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  According to religious freedom advocates, 
human rights experts, and religious leaders, overall 
religious freedom in Russia continues to improve, despite 
continued individual violations documented in our annual 
Report on Religious Freedom.  More than 22,000 religious 
organizations have registered, no religion meeting statutory 
requirements has been denied national registration status, 
and the number of people participating in organized religions 
is increasing.  The constitution, federal law, and federal 
government officials support freedom of religion, although 
religious groups (particularly Muslims) can face pressure 
from local government officials.  Experts agree that 
administrative actions against religious groups are more 
often driven by corruption than by bigotry.  Religious groups 
must cope with bureaucracy and paperwork through a process 
that, as one expert put it, "ensures equal red tape for 
everyone," but tends to present greater challenges for 
smaller and less well-connected religious groups.  End 
summary. 
 
------------------------------ 
Russia:  A Nation of Believers 
------------------------------ 
 
2. (U) Religious freedom experts and religious leaders agree 
that the growth in religious freedom in Russia has maintained 
a positive trajectory since 1991, when the USSR 
disintegrated, which is reflected in polling data.  According 
to a VTsIOM poll conducted at the end of 2006, 84% of 
Russians believe in God, 63% identify themselves as Russian 
Orthodox, and 6% as Muslim.  Other Christian groups make up 
approximately 3% of the population.  The growth of those who 
identify themselves as a member of an organized religion is 
striking. For example, the number of Russians identifying 
themselves as Russian Orthodox has grown from 34% (1990) to 
50% (1999) to 63% (2006), according to VTsIOM.  Other polls 
have found that Orthodox are approximately 70% of the 
population, and Muslims as much as 16%. 
 
3. (U)  While only 10-12% of Russians regularly attend 
services (similar to European countries), this is double the 
1991 level, and the average age of members has fallen from 60 
to 48. 
 
---------------------------------- 
Russia's Religious Groups Multiply 
---------------------------------- 
 
4. (U) The spread of religious identification is reflected in 
the growth in registered religious organizations.  According 
to the 1997 Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Association," 
religious communities must register as a juridical entity to 
receive certain rights and privileges, such as owning 
property or entering into contracts.  As of December 2005 
(the latest statistics available), the MOJ had registered 
22,513 groups, 54% of which were Russian Orthodox Church 
(ROC) organizations. Russia's largest religions and their 
percentage of the population are listed below. 
 
   Religion   Groups   Pct of Groups   Pct of Pop (est.) 
   --------   ------   -------------   ---------- 
   ROC        12,214   54%             63-70% 
   Muslim      3,668   16%             6-16% 
   Protestant  4,000   18%             1-2% 
   Jewish        284

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