By Paul Goble
Thirty percent of Russians now identify as Muslims, according to a new survey by the ZoomMarket marketing agency, just 12 percent fewer than the 42 percent who say they are Orthodox Christians. Some 18 percent say they are atheists, with all other denominations in the single digits.
Thus, three percent of Russians say they are Roman Catholics, two percent say they are Protestants or Old Believers, and one percent each identify as Buddhists, Jews, Greek Catholics or Slavic pagans (mazm.ru/article/a-2013.html and znak.com/2017-06-20/42_rossiyan_schitayut_sebya_pravoslavnymi).
The most Orthodox places were Samara, where 57 percent said they were Orthodox Christians, Nizhny Novgorod and Perm (53 percent), Novosibirsk (49 percent), St. Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk (43 percent), Voronezh (41 percent).
The most Muslim places were Kazan (72 percent), Krasnodar (43 percent), Voronezh (31 percent), Yekaterinburg (29 percent), Krasnoyarsk (28 percent), and Moscow (26 percent). And the most “atheist” were St. Petersburg (26 percent), Voronezh and Yekaterinburg (23 percent), Krasnoyarsk (22 percent), Moscow (21 percent), and Novosibirsk (18 percent).
These figures are important for at least three reasons. First, they show just how rapidly Islam is gaining ground in Russia. Second, they cast doubt on the claims of the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate about how “Orthodox” Russia in fact now is. And third, they set the stage for even more changes ahead.
One indication of that: a third of all those queried said that they would vote for a religious party if one were available to them.