Editor’s Note: The Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Washington, DC, hosted a presentation on 6 April 2004 by Anatoly Krasikov, director of the Center of Social and Religious Studies, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. Notes from the Kennan Institute event summary follow.
Anatoly Krasikov noted that the Russian state has allowed greater religious freedom since the end of the Soviet period than it has at any other time in its history, and that religiosity among the general population has increased dramatically. However, he argued that the Orthodox Church is losing its historical position of dominance. Orthodox parishes account for the majority of registered religious organizations in only two of Russia’s seven federal districts; they constitute a plurality in four districts; and take second place to Protestant groups in the Far East. Krasikov noted that the number of both Protestant and Muslim believers are increasing more rapidly than the number of Orthodox believers.
He contended that real religious freedom has not yet been seriously compromised by the culture of intolerance. Krasikov noted that religious and human rights groups successfully challenged the restrictive 1997 law in the court system, leading to significant limitations on its enforcement. However, Krasikov warned that there are serious threats to continued freedom of religion in Russia. For his personal spiritual advisor, Putin chose a priest known for his undemocratic and intolerant views. Krasikov argued that, while many Orthodox believers are firmly in favor of religious freedom, the more intolerant segments of the Church have been able to influence public opinion and to ally with politicians who wish to use religion to further their own goals.
Edited excerpt reprinted with permission from Kennan Institute Event Summary #7, “Religious Freedom as a Condition for Russia’s Revival in the 21st Century,” 6 April 2004.
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