ISSN 2330-717X

Russia’s Ten Most Orthodox, Ten Most Muslim And Ten Most Pagan Cities – OpEd


Sociologists at Moscow’s Finance University surveyed residents of all Russian cities with populations greater than 250,000 to determine the level of “penetration of Orthodox culture in the lives” of such people. But the survey also identified where Islam and paganism are having an impact.

Specifically, the scholars asked Russian urban residents how much they were interested in or involved with religious practices. That allowed them to rank the cities in terms of their interest in Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, and paganism (

Using this measure, the scholars ranked the ten “most Orthodox” cities of the country. They are Lipetsk, Kursk, Saransk, Moscow, Belgorod, Voronezh, Tambov, Ryazan, Ulyanovsk and Kaluga. The ten “most Muslim” cities are Makhachkala, Grozny, Kazan, Naberezhny Chelny, Ufa, Sterlitamak, Stavropol, Astrakhan, Nizhnevartovsk, and Rostov-na-Donu.

The ten cities with the most interest in pagan and neo-pagan religions, including ancient Russian and pre-Christian faiths, the sociologists report, are Komsomolsk-na-Amure, Stavropol, Belgorod, Magnitogorsk, Sterlitamak, Lipetsk, Kostroma, Novorossiisk, Taganrog, and Tula.

Several cities are on more than one list. Muscovites display a high interest in both Orthodoxy and Islam. Residents of Lipetsk, Kaluga, Kursk, Belgorod, and Tambov show high interest in both Orthodoxy and neo-paganism. And residents of Stavropol, Simferopol, Nizhny Novgorod, and Magnitogorsk show high levels of interest in Islam and neo-paganism.

The only Russian city to be near the top on all three lists is Ulyanovsk.

These patterns may prove more important than one might think. On the one hand, the findings in some cases simply reflect the number of followers of each of these three faiths. But on the other, they may reflect a heightened interest in and thus a greater potential for conflict among these various religious trends.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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