What ethnicities and religions are in Russia

Religions of Russia

Russia is a multi-national state with over 186 ethnic groups designated as nationalities. The majority of the population is Russian. The next-largest groups are Tatars than Ukranian, Chuvash, Bashkirs, Belorussians, and others.
So be ready when you ask someone in Russia: ”Are you Russian?”-, to hear back: “No, I have a Russian passport, but I am a Tatar (Ukrainian, Chuvash, Belarusian, etc.)
Officially Russia is a secular state. Russian government recognizes Russian Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Catholicism.
Besides that, religious differences in Russia contain an ethnic element.
In the 10th century, Prince Vladimir I adopted Christianity from Byzantium as the official religion. Since that, for almost 1000 years the Russian Orthodox Church was dominant in the country.
After the revolution in 1917, religious institutions suffered. The church lost most of its property, and many monks had to leave their monasteries.
In the 1980s, under the reforms time, a policy of “openness” allows a more tolerant attitude to religious practice. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, religious freedom appeared. 

Orthodox religion in Russia.

Today Russian Orthodoxy is the largest religious group in the country. Most Russians do attend Christmas services and avoid drinking alcohol during Easter. There is a quite difference between Russkiy, ethnic Russians, and Rossiyane, citizens of Russia belonging to different ethnic groups.

mosque in St.petersburgMuslim religion.

Muslims constitute Russia’s second largest religious group. It is the historically dominant religion among some Caucasian ethnic groups (the Chechens, the Ingush and the Adyghe), and some Turkic peoples (the Tatars and the Bashkirs). Many Muslims in Russia attend Friday prayers and observe Ramadan.



Religions of RussiaCatholics in Russia

Catholicism is the religion about 0.1%  of the total population. Because the number of “ethnic Catholics” in Russia, that is to say, Poles and Germans, and smaller minorities, they continually declining due to emigration and secularisation.


Moscow Choral SynagogueJudaism religion in Russia

In the history of Russia, Jews constituted a large religious diaspora. In the vast territories of the Russian Empire at one time lived the largest population of Jews in the world. Most of them were Ashkenazic Jews, but the community also included a significant proportion of other Jewish groups
Anyway, Jews long suffered discrimination in Russia: purges in the 19th century, repression under the regime of Joseph Stalin, and Nazi atrocities during World War II. In the 1980s, Jewish began emigration to Israel, and the number of Jews living in Russia has decreased. Now, most ethnic Jews in Russia are not Jewish by religion. one-tenth of all Jews in Russia live in Moscow, St.Petersburg and other big cities.

buddhist temple in St.PetersburgBuddhists in Russia

Historically, Buddhism was incorporated into Siberia. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Buddhist revival began in Kalmykia in Buryatia and Tuva and began to spread to Russians in other regions. Buddhism in Russia is almost exclusively of the Tibetan Vajrayana schools. There are many Russian converts, and as the result appeared a Russianised (Rossiysky) Buddhism, and of Western Buddhist missionaries.


To find out about various ethnicities and religious traditions, you can on our guided tours. For example, you will get acquainted with the greatest architectural monuments: St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Kazan Cathedral on the Red Square of the Russian capital, The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, St. Isaac’s Cathedral of the Northern Capital, a magnificent example of Art Nouveau mosque in St. Petersburg. Also, you will see unusual interiors and mosaics in the Moscow synagogue, as well as an unforgettable Buddhist temple of the city on the Neva River.

For further information about our tours, please contact us here.