Report from Moscow: Religion and Atheism in Russia
Report from Moscow: Religion and Atheism in Russia
I came back to Moscow after an eight-year absence expecting to find the country tightly in the hands of the anti-enlightenment. For years we have been hearing about American evangelists in Eastern Europe, feeding like vultures on the minds of helpless, ignorant and superstitious Russians and other peoples, taking every advantage of a supposed "spiritual vacuum" left after the collapse of communism. We have been reading about the increasing influence of the Russian Orthodox church and a spiritual "re-awakening" after decades of godlessness. These descriptions have elements of truth, but my general impression was more one of disinterest in religion by the bulk of the people.
When I was in Russia in 1991-1992, the people seemed to be experimenting with religious belief. Since 1988, it was no longer in any way disadvantageous to attend church, so people were trying it out. In the family I stayed with, they had the Russian Orthodox Patriarch doing Christmas mass on TV during the Christmas meal, but nobody paid any attention to the ceremony – it just droned on in the background. They told me it was the first time they had “celebrated Christmas" at all. There were articles in the newspapers describing what Christmas was and what happens during a liturgy and what you are supposed to do at church. Elena, a housewife, had her husband drive her to church once while I was there. I went along. Her husband waited in the car while she bought a candle at the little store in front of the church, went inside to put the candle at the altar, and got back in the car. Then we drove home. The churches were full back then, but the whole back half of the church was filled with people going in to take a look, staying for 10 or 15 minutes, and walking back out. A Russian Orthodox liturgy simply took too much time for people used to the fast pace of Moscow in a hungry and hectic winter of low incomes and empty shelves. The real believers were the old women in the front, near the altar, doing all the bowing and crossing-themselves.
Religion in Public
Today the superficial signs of church activity have gotten more obvious than they were in 1991-1992. The massive 19th-century cathedral near the center of Moscow that the Soviet government razed to the ground in 1939 and, for lack of funding for the planned "Palace of the Soviets", replaced with a swimming pool, has been rebuilt at enormous expense. A small church at the corner of Red Square which was nothing but a hole in the ground and a collection box in 1992, has also been rebuilt. Indeed, everywhere in town, the churches have been renovated or rebuilt. The "Baghatva-Gita" posters have disappeared from the subways, but now many subway stations, and every church, has a table or more frequently a small all-weather kiosk outside where passers-by can buy religious literature, jewelry and icons. All the profits, say the signs, go for the reconstruction of church property. Most of the literature seems fairly normal: Bibles, prayer and hymn books, catechisms, blatant propaganda for children. But some of it seemed strange to western eyes, not the kind of literature a western Christian sidewalk stand would be selling: How to pray correctly for a rich harvest (as if anybody in the Moscow subway is a farmer), Setting up your own home icon corner, Evil Spirits And How They Effect People. In some of the subway stations, there might be a priest standing with a collection box for the renovation of church property and, given the masses of people about all the time, it is no surprise to see some people stopping to drop him some change.
The Church and the Russian Federation
Militant atheism was part and parcel of Soviet state policy up until 1943, when Stalin agreed to some compromises with the church in return for support in the war effort. “Militant atheism” meant, in many cases, a violent, hateful attack on religion including the disenfranchisement of the churches, the mocking of rituals, and the oppression of priests and believers up to and including deportation and murder. Right up into the perestroika period, it was associated with some degree of anti-church activity. Churches were used as clubs, concert halls, and museums, including museums of “The History of Atheism and Religion” which emphasized the evils of church history by displaying instruments of torture used in the inquisition. The church hierarchy was spied on and controlled and limitations on free speech were applied more strictly than usual to religious “propaganda”. Anti-church measures continued to get more and more mild in recent decades, however, and, as early as the 1970ies, there were signs of growing acceptance of religiosity in public life. In 1988, the Soviet government joined the Russian Orthodox church in officially celebrating the millennial anniversary of Christianity in Russia. That marked the end of all remaining elements of state suppression of the church.
Since then, the official role that religion has established for itself in the Russian state is surprisingly modern. It might have been expected that, in it’s desperate attempts to undo everything communist, the state would have turned state hostility toward religion into open, legalized state support of religion. Instead, at least on paper, Russia seems to have found its way to the middle ground, less secular than France and comparable to Germany.
The constitution of the Russian Federation mentions religion several times. Article 14:
1. The Russian Federation is a worldly government. No religion may ever be considered a state religion or an obligatory religion.
2. Religious organizations are separate from the state and are equal before the law.
Article 13 states much the same for ideologies. It recognizes ideological pluralism and a multi-party system as well as the equality of all organizations before the law. Article 19 forbids discrimination on any grounds and explicitly mentions religious conviction as well as race, nationality, language, sex or class.
Article 28: Everyone is guaranteed the right to freedom of conscious and confession including the right to practice alone or together with others any religion or not practice any religion and freely choose, have and preach any religious or other convictions and to act in accordance with those convictions.
Article 29 contains a qualifier reminiscent of German laws restricting racial and national propaganda: "No agitation or propaganda is allowed that creates social, racial, national or religious hatred. All propaganda about social, racial, national, religious or linguistic superiority is forbidden".
In September of 1997, both houses of the Russian congress passed a federal law "Regarding the freedom of conscious and regarding religious organizations". It seems to leave plenty of room for the church and the state to interfere in each other's affairs, or at least allow for government support of religious organizations. The preamble reads:
The Federal Congress of the Russian Federation,
- emphasizing the right of every person to freedom of conscious and the freedom of confession as well as the equality of all persons before the law without regard to religion or conviction,
- based on the fact that the Russian Federation is a worldly government,
- recognizing the special role that Orthodoxy has played in the history of Russia in the origins
and development of its spirituality and culture,
- respecting Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions which make up an undeniable part of the inheritance of the peoples of Russia, considering it important to help achieve a greater mutual understanding, tolerance and respect in questions of freedom of conscious and confession,
do hereby make this Federal law.
Despite this wording about the "special role" of Russian Orthodoxy, there is little in the rest of the 26-article, 15-page law that treats the Russian Orthodox church or even Christianity any differently than other religions. The text of the law does confirm the constitutional right to believe or not believe whatever you want and the equality before the law regardless of belief or disbelief. It also confirms the secular nature of public education. There are some interesting privileges for religion hidden in the text, however, and some definite contradictions within the law itself and with the constitution. I have been unable to find a legal commentary on the law or information on cases involving the law, so we are left with common sense and some help from the Russian atheist web page when interpreting the implications:
* It is illegal to "take public measures, or distribute texts or pictures which insult the religious feelings of citizens near places of worship". Theoretically, this leaves no physical space for blasphemy in areas populated before 1917, where churches abound, but lots of space for it elsewhere, since virtually no new churches were built from 1917 until Perestroika. So apparently you can not say nasty things about god in downtown Moscow, but it is okay out near the edges of town where the vast majority of the population actually lives! The same as in other countries with blasphemy laws, this directly contradicts rights to freedom of expression guaranteed in other laws.
* Priests can not be required to testify about what they hear during confession.
* In addition to a general right to refuse military service on grounds of conscious (religious or otherwise), the law allows religious organizations to request, in times of peace, that those training to become religious leaders delay their military service. This seems an obvious case of state support for religion, but it should be noted that those attending colleges and universities in Russia can also get a draft deferral. It is the implication that seminary is equivalent to other forms of education that seems strange to atheists.
* The state will support church maintenance and restoration of objects considered important monuments of national heritage (so the taxpayers of this poor country probably helped turn that downtown, open-air swimming pool back into a dark, smoky church).
* The state will support the secular elements of education in religious schools. Think about what this implies for funding. In the US, it took the recent ruling of the Supreme Court to make way for massive public funding for religious schools. In Russia, it is built into a federal law, waiting to be used.
* Local government may (but apparently doesn’t have to) heed the requests of local religions and declare holidays. Given the cultural diversity of Russia’s far-flung regions, this is more fair than imposing Christian holidays on the entire population. It does mean, however, that local religious majorities can impose their will on minorities.
* "At the request of parents and with the agreement of the children (!) studying in state or municipal schools, the administration of the schools may, with the agreement of local government, allow religious organizations to instruct children in religion outside of normal class time". This will probably eventually result in a German-type system, where "Protestant" or "Catholic" classes taught by trained religion pedagogues and "Ethics" classes for non-believers take up a few hours of class time per week. Recently, three prominent educators, including the rector of the Moscow State University, Viktor A. Sadovnichiy, wrote an open letter to the Minister of Education calling for the introduction of religion classes in Russian schools. This will probably be a big issue this fall, when children return after the summer break. Regionally a religious rollback is already underway in education. In the Belgorod region Russian Orthodox religion classes, taught by clergy or by personnel approved by the clergy, have become an obligatory part of school curriculum for all children. This will no doubt quickly spread to other regions.
But the law also has some restrictions:
* Religious organizations can not participate in politics as organizations. Individual members may vote, join political organizations and run for office, of course.
* The government can intervene in religious affairs or even dissolve religious organizations if religious ceremonies or traditions or activities are contrary to the law. (No sacrificing babies or even adult virgins.)
All in all, the law contains nothing very dramatic or surprising. It seems well in line with European church-state relations in general. Some of it's paragraphs contradict each other, but that is to be expected when lawmakers give in to church pressure while trying to maintain democratic wording.
Superficial or symbolic church-state connections are quite common. It is not uncommon to see a newspaper or television report about a priest blessing a new submarine or airplane or to see Russian politicians involved in religious events. President Yel’tsin and the mayor of Moscow were both there to cut the ribbon on the new Christ Redeemer Cathedral (the former swimming pool mentioned above) several years ago. Yel’tsin and Putin both showed up again in June for the opening of a new church built especially for the use of Russian policemen in Moscow. The Russian state is also supporting the church’s celebrations of 2000 years of Christianity. But sometimes, the role of the church is not entirely clear and has yet to be established by tradition. President Putin decided not to invite the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksey II (he is always named with full title) to his inauguration on the 7th of May even though Yeltsin had invited him four years earlier. 21 parliamentarians and other politicians signed a petition before the ceremony reminding Putin that Russia is a secular state. As far as I could tell, none of the papers made a fuss about the decision. According to Kommersant, Aleksey was told that if they invited him, they would have to invite "all the Muftis". Apparently, Putin found this dispassionate logic convincing and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksey II had to wait outside. After the ceremony Putin, allegedly an Orthodox believer, visited him unofficially at the Cathedral of the Assumption, requested a blessing for his presidency, and received two icons as gifts.
Hammer, Sickle and Cross
One of the strangest observations that can be made in today’s Russia is what seems to be a connection between Russian Orthodox religion and Soviet-style communist ideology. I first noticed this during an unofficial parade down one of Moscow’s main streets on Victory Day (May 9th), the national celebration of the victory over Nazi Germany. Thousands of marchers, mostly elderly but including all age groups, came down the street in groups of various sizes carrying banners, flags, icons and signs of protest. Some of the groups were communists: the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, local communist party organizations, a communist youth group, and others. They carried red flags, communist slogans, and anti-Yeltsin and anti-Putin signs and posters of Stalin, Lenin, and Marshall Zhukov. Some groups were nationalists, wearing white army uniforms and carrying flags and icons. Some were Orthodox Christian groups carrying flags and icons and singing or praying. Many individuals in the parade and some of the groups seemed to be a little of everything. They tried to represent some kind of Russian re-birth based on socialism, Orhodoxy and “Russianness”: icons and Lenin pins, red flags and prayers for the motherland.
A less nebulous and more telling sign of this phenomenon is the mass-conversion of communist public figures. To name just one example out of many from the former Soviet states, Gnady Zyuganov, the leader of the Russian CP, went public with his religiosity and even had his children christened on TV. Like others, he now claims that he has always been a believer, but that he had been forced to keep it a secret during the Soviet period. In church-state issues, the church can usually count on the left-wing vote in the Duma. This ideological mixing and maneuvering definitely draws a constituency form among the masses of people, mostly of the older generations, who have lost out in the last 10 years of chaos and reform.
This should not really come as a surprise, despite the historic hatred between communism and organized religion and the oppression of the church in the Soviet Union and communist Eastern Europe. The two movements have much in common in the Russian context: A packaged and ready model which can be applied to explain just about anything without the need for further questioning or testing, an authoritarian worldview based on a corpus of “holy” texts and leaders who are to be believed, not questioned, a worldview which has a lot to say about the greatness of the idealized distant future instead of productive policies concerning the problems of the present day, an emphasis on form rather than content, as seen in the parades, processions, rituals, ceremonies and plethora of symbols, and a mild to virilient anti-westernism and especially anti-Americanism – despite the western origin of socialist ideas and the religiosity of America.
“I am Russian – therefor I am an Orthodox ”
Decades of state-advocated atheism have left their mark. According to a recent study "only" 47% of Russians say they "believe in God". This is about four times as many as was the case at the end of the 1970es (although that earlier data is probably of doubtful reliability considering the political situation back then), but still low by comparison with most of the world, even the developed world. 41% of the believers are men. Here are some more data:
People who are unsure about belief in God: 25%. Add this to the 47% who definately do believe and that leaves a recruiting base of 28% of the population for atheist organizations, well over 50 million people. But a more realistic number for such considerations is probably this one:
No belief in anything supernatural: 10.3%. This group is 62.8% men. But this group is also rather confused. From among the members of this group, 1.6% believe in the devil, 14.7% in omens, 13.2% in “some supernatural power” (!?), 2.8% in life after death, 3.4% in magic and 2.4% in a soul. What, then, does "supernatural" mean to these people?
Consider themselves members of a particular confession: 69.5%. This would appear to contradict the low number of believers. But, as is often the case elsewhere, belief and group membership are not the same thing. The special role of Russian Orthodoxy in Russian life today is reflected in the following statistic and, I think, goes a long way in explaining what is going on here:
Percentage of non-believers who feel that religion is necessary to maintain national consciousness: over 60%. This is perhaps typical of countries where more modern, “rational”, institutionalized factors for national integration, such as the constitution, are less developed or less present in the minds of the citizenry. Being a Hindu is often considered part and parcel of being “truly” Indian. Some form of allegiance or adherence to Russian Orthodoxy is, in much the same way, part of being considered truly Russian.
Here are some other interesting results:
No belief in a personal God, but some belief in the supernatural: 15.7%. Belief in omens: 25.9%, in UFOs: 8.3% (alien visitors, not UFOs in the narrow sense), in magic: 11.5%.
The opinion that the man should head the family: 21.8% of Russian Orthodox, 51.7% of Muslims, 20.7% of non-believers.
The idea that Orthodox belief can "cleanse" society: almost no support from Muslims and non-believers and only 8.2% of believers. This is encouraging. Even believers seem to doubt that their religion has all the answers to the economic, social and political problems facing Russia.
One can't/shouldn't live without God (nel'zya zhit' bez Boga): 26%. This raises the question of what all the believers really believe or how deeply they have reflected on the implications of their beliefs. How can you really believe in Christianity and all it teaches about salvation and damnation and not be horrified at someone's rejection of it, especially if you are supposed to “love” that person as yourself?
Russia will gradually become a Muslim country: 8.2% of Russian Orthodox, 20.7% of Muslims (!), 11.7% of non-believers. Considering the percentage of Muslims in the country (10-13%), these numbers are high and, at least among the non-Muslim population, reflect a fear based on comparatively low ethnic Russian birthrates, immigration from central Asia and the Caucus region, and the growth of radical Islam in the Northern Caucuses region.
Religiosity is not spread evenly throughout the Russian Federation. The highest percentage of the faithful is to be found in the central “black earth” regions (around Ryazan, Tambov, Voronezh) and in the South of the country, in the Kuban (around Rostov and Krasnodar). Both the density of church buildings per capita and the density of believers is lower in the northern and eastern regions of the country. This is perhaps because those areas are more urban and were populated later, primarily during the Soviet period, while the central and southern regions have had more stable populations.
My source does not give the numbers, but claims that believers have gotten younger, more educated, more socially and politically active than they were in the past. They are more patriotic than other citizens (the mystical, romantic, spiritual patriotism of some writing I saw was almost sickening), and more pro-state. I visited several churches on Sunday mornings and found that the demography of church attendance has definitely changed since 1992. Women still dominate, but now it is not only old women. Lots of young mothers with small children attend. Surprisingly, I also counted many young men – 15 to 30 – in the crowds. The only demographic group almost totally absent seemed to be older men (over 50 or so). Their absence might be totally biological however, as the average life expectancy for Russian males has dropped to under 60!
So Where are the Atheists?
The big question on my mind during the first few weeks of my stay was: Who protested when they made a church out of a perfectly good swimming pool? It is not terribly hard to find non-believers in the general population, but where are the organized atheists? The first five people I asked looked at me like I was from Mars, much the same reaction I got in used bookstores looking for any remnant of the dozens of titles on scientific atheism, atheist pedagogy, atheist propaganda, and "scientific atheism" I had seen in the Lenin Library. “Nobody cares about that anymore”. My failed attempts to find Russian atheism on the web before my trip had warned me that that might be the case.
Well, at the Moscow State University I struck gold. I met a philosophy professor, Zul'fija A. Tazhurizina, an atheist who still teaches classes on free-thought philosophy and is, by the way, still a convinced Marxist. She told me about the fall of Soviet atheism which she said she saw coming as early as the late 1970ies, and about the rise of clericalism in Russia over the past 20 years. She put me in touch with Valerij A. Kuvakin, an atheist and president of the Russian Humanist Society (Russkoe Gumanisticheskoe Obshchestvo). She also introduced me to Aleksandr E. Belyakov, a member of the executive committee of the newly-formed Russian Atheist Union (Rossiyskiy Ateisticheskiy Soyuz) which developed out of members of a Society of Scientific Atheism and other interested parties.
The Russian Humanist Society was founded in 1995 by a small circle of Russian intellectuals and now has about 60 members in Moscow and St. Petersburg and a few “cells” in other cities. Paul Kurtz and his Council for Secular Humanism are in touch with this group and providing them with some assistance. This June they hosted, for the third time now, an international humanist meeting in St. Petersburg. They also have their own journal, Zdravyy smysl' (Common Sense), a quarterly with high-brow articles on politics, history, ethics, humanism, atheism and other areas of philosophy. Recent issues have included articles on such topics as the war in Chechnya, euthanasia (a discussion sparked by a letter-to-the-editor from a handicapped reader), Giordano Bruno, and several articles on humanism in the thought of famous Russian authors. Their members are generally well-educated professionals or university students. As far as the kind of humanism this organization represents, it would appear to be almost totally secular. Their writings reflect this as well as something Professor Tazhurizina told me. She said that she was at one of the first meetings and suggested that the organization call itself “atheist” instead of “humanist”. Only two people objected. The vice chairman, Prof. Razin, also in the philosophy department at Moscow State University, told me the leadership is essentially atheist.
There is apparently a collegial relationship between the Russian Humanist Society and the atheist organization. The most recent issue of Common Sense featured a “journal within a journal” dedicated to atheist opinions by members of the Russian Atheist Movement, the organization which was to become the Russian Atheist Union. The atheist section was, however, introduced with an article clearly intended to put ideological distance between the humanists and the atheist position presented there. It referred to the young atheists as “militant”, “radical” and “quick-tempered” and warned them to “be humanists first – then atheists”. While somewhat less compromising in tone than the humanist articles, they did not contain much, if anything, that American Atheists would consider radical. Indeed, the first article was an ambitious list of perspective goals which had obviously been influenced by reading up on western organizations:
To work for the principles of secular government and to prevent in all lawful ways the transformation of Russian Orthodoxy into a state religion
To propagate the scientific method for the investigation of reality, and the formation of a materialist and atheist world view
To spread humanism and religious tolerance
To infuse into the practice of educational institutions a program which will help foster a critical, skeptical and rational approach to all kinds of religious and mystical doctrines
To work to provide social and psychological help for the victims of totalitarian sects and cults
To combat charlatanism in science and the reliance on superstition
To create a regular written publication and provide for the publication of atheist literature
To organize public lectures and discussions
To cooperate with the mass media and with atheist and anti-clerical organizations at home and abroad.
So who are these “radical” atheists? The Russian Atheist Movement became the Russian Atheist Union, the current working name for an organization which has just come into being. Talks started last fall (and the working name changed several times), but only on May 18th of this year did the first formal meeting take place. At last count there were some 40 members and a rapidly growing stack of about 100 membership applications, mostly from Moscow, but also from other cities in Russia. Seven members of the Russian Academy of Science have also expressed their support but are still hesitating to join. The executive committee consists of ten members (all men, although there are women in the organization) who are, like most all the members of the organization, well educated. The committee includes a journalist, a translator, two natural scientists, a lawyer, two computer specialists, a businessman and two students of pedagogy. If anything is missing in the demography, it is a middle generation. They seem to consist of a “young guard” of under-30ies, people who remember the communist period only from their childhood, and an “old guard” of people who had well-established biographies well before the fall of the Soviet Union. Politically, they seem as diverse as any atheist group. Some of the older generation may still hold Marx near to their hearts, but they do recognize the need for democratic reform and do not extend far left of things which can occasionally be read on the American Atheist internet chat-line. The dangerous, anti-democratic leftists in Russia have, as was pointed out above, generally gone back to church.
When I contacted the organization in May, I was invited to attend the next meeting of their Executive Committee. While there, I passed on a formal greeting, wishing them success in all their endeavors in the name of American Atheists. They expressed their hope that some form of cooperation might eventually take form. They did not ask for material support, but did suggest the idea that our organization or individual members could be of assistance in getting Russian atheists visas for trips abroad to meet western atheists, learn about our organizations or attend atheist meetings and conferences. Americans and Russians can not, at present, visit each others’ countries without a formal invitation.
At present, their projects include getting officially registered as an organization, a membership drive, and publicity. As of June, they were working to publish an open letter signed by as many prominent personalities (politicians of various parties, artists, authors, professors, etc.) as they can muster. The letter was to express concern about myriad forms of “clericalization” of Russian society and government and the need to labor for the total separation of church and state as foreseen in the constitution. This is to be followed by a press conference. Once the organization has gotten some publicity and has taken hold, they plan to elect a chairperson – if possible, someone with some popularity who could help attract attention to the organization.
These Russian atheists are very aware of the uphill battle they have to fight. The only advantage they have over American Atheists is the low percentage of believers in Russia. Russian atheists are swimming against a strong historical current, however, made more swift by the present economic and social crisis. Several factors make their position more difficult than that of western Atheism. First of all, democratic tradition in Russia is less developed, which makes a position like atheism, which does best in an environment of argumentation and discourse, more difficult to defend. Secondly, state-church separation is not quite as explicit in word or in practice as it is in the U.S. or in France and not anchored in any national tradition, at least not in an historical period to which people can appeal when justifying present policy and opinions. Finally, atheism in Russia does not imply, as it often does in the U.S., some abstract kind of “godlessness” associated with a gut fear of something people don’t really know about. Instead, the term carries with it the baggage of the historical events mentioned above, the state-sponsored atheism which continued well into the lifetimes of many Russians living today. When a Russian hears the word “atheist”, he or she automatically thinks of the early, violent period of Soviet history, when priests were being jailed and churches ruined and the League of the Militant Godless, a USSR-wide organization, was at it’s prime. He or she is likely to think, “We’ve tried that and it didn’t work.”
It is that image of intolerance and violence that has probably prevented the Russian humanist organization from rallying under the name of atheism and caused them to back off somewhat from the new atheist organization, despite the determined rejection of any “theistic” content in either organization and an overlap in membership. Russian atheists know they must work diligently to replace that image with one of atheists as freethinking, democratically inclined, open-minded individuals. Today’s Russian atheists must tread very softly and avoid any harsh rhetoric that could play into the hands of the Orthodox or Muslim clergy, who will jump at every opportunity publicly to label them the “militant godless”. Based on the impressions I gathered talking with Russian atheists and reading their material, I have every confidence that this new group of young and old, highly motivated, well organized, intelligent, well-informed and well-connected activists will make some headway in this regard. They state their case in no uncertain terms, but it is no less certain that they do not want a communist roll-back. The “migration” of the hard-core communists into the arms of the church and the anti-democratic rhetoric of some church figures and the church press will only help dispel negative stereotypes.
The Russian daily papers Kommersant, Izvestiya, Segodnya, and Nezavisimaya gazeta, the weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta, and the bi-weekly NG-Religii as well as the English language weeklies The Moscow Times and The Russian Journal and the German Moskauer Zeitung.
Belyaeva, A.V. (Ed.): Gosudarstvo, obshchestvo, tserkov’, XX vek. Yaroslavskiy gosudarstvennyy universitet im. P.G. Demidova: Yaroslavl’, 2000. (Government, society, church in the 20th century.)
Federal'nyy Zakon O svobode sovesti i o religioznykh ob''edineniyakh prinyat Gosudarstvennoy Dumoy 9 sentyabrya 1997 g. Os'-89: Moscow, 1998. (The Federal Law on the Freedom of Conscious and on Religious Organizations)
Konstitutsiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii. Izd. gruppa NORMA-INFRA: Moscow, 2000. (The Constitution of the Russian Federation)
Krindac, Aleksej: Religiöse Wiedergeburt und Entstehung einer neuen “konfessionellen Landschaft” in Rußland. Teil I: Osteuropa, Zeitschrift für Gegenwartsfragen des Ostens 2/2000, pp. 161-175. Teil II: Osteuropa, Zeitschrift für Gegenwartsfragen des Ostens 3/2000, pp. 264-279. (Religious Rebirth and the Genenis of a new “confessional landscape” in Russia.)
Ugolovnyy kodeks Rossiyskoy Federatsii. Zertsalo: Moscow, 1997. (The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.)
www.atheism.ru: The only website about Russian atheism. It does not reflect the current organizational situation at all, but does shed some light on their problems, opinions and perspectives. At present, it is only in Russian.
Zdravyy smysl’, the magazine of the Russian Humanist Society. In the most recent issue, #15 for the spring of 2000, a large section was set aside for articles by Russian atheists and their ideas.