Area 17,075,400 sq.km. The world's largest country extending across 11 time zones between the Baltic and the Pacific. The Russian Federation is composed of 89 administrative districts including 21 republics, 49 regions (oblasts), 2 federal cities, 6 ethnic territories, 10 ethnic districts and one autonomous region.
Massive decline an estimated 30 million loss between 2000 and 2050 is likely. A further 25 million Russians live in 15 other fSU states. Siberia has one of the lowest population densities in the world.
Capital Moscow 13,200,000. Other major cities: St. Petersburg 5.55m; Nizhny Novgorod 1.98m; Rostov-on-Don 1.8m; Yekaterinburg 1.58m; Novosibirsk 1.55m; Samara 1.43m; Volgograd 1.4m; Chelyabinsk 1.3m; Omsk 1.2m; Kazan 1.2m; Perm 1.15m; Saratov 1.15m; Ufa 1.1m. Urbanites 73%.
Great diversity made more complex by migrations, intense efforts to Russify minorities and immigration of fSU peoples into the present Russian Federation.
Slav(8) 84.9%. Russian 121m; Ukrainian 1.9m; Belarusian 440,000; Polish 90,000.
Caucasus Peoples 2.6%. Chechen 1.2m; Circassian (Adygey, Cherkess, Kabardi) 620,000; Avar 602,000; Armenian 556,000; Darghin 374,000; Lezhgi 238,000; Ingush 224,000; Georgian 136,000; Lak 122,000; Tabassaran 98,000.
Indo-Iranian 0.6%. Ossetian 400,000; Rom (Gypsy) 180,000.
Other 0.6%. German 580,000; Moldavian 145,000; Greek 85,000.
Turkic 7.2%. Tatar (Bolgar) 6m; Chuvash 1.8m; Bashkort 1.8m; Kazakh 664,000; Azeri 350,000; Kumyk 290,000; Karachay-Balkar 240,000; Uzbek 130,000.
Altaic 1%. Buryat Mongolian 436,000; Yakut 400,000; Tuvin 215,000; Kalmyk Mongolian 200,000; Altai 83,000; Nogai 77,000; Evenki 32,000.
Finno-Ugric(29) 2.3%. Mordvinian(3) 1.2m; Udmurt 746,000; Mari(3) 736,000; Komi(3) 500,000; Finnish (Karelian, Inkeri) 270,000; Estonian 48,000; Khanti-Mansi 32,000.
Other 0.8%. Jews 470,000 and declining; Koreans 110,000.
Literacy 98%. Official language Russian; local languages in autonomous republics. All languages 96. Languages with Scriptures 3Bi 8NT 40por 80w.i.p.
Vast natural resources and potentially the world's wealthiest country. Inadequate, crumbling infrastructure and the long-term structural and moral effects of the Marxist centralized command economy have prevented their exploitation for the benefit of the people. Efforts by the government to liberalize the economy and reduce state ownership have only been partially successful due to resistance by political and bureaucratic interest groups. By 1998 over 70% of the GDP was privately generated. Over 60% of the major state industries were taken over by the former Communist managers, many of whom became enormously wealthy. Criminal 'mafia' syndicates seized control of much of the economy (500 banks, 40,000+ businesses and 47 stock exchanges) and milked them for their own benefit with an estimated $300 billion stashed away in foreign banks. The domestic economy, the taxation system and effective trading virtually collapsed. About 30% of the people live on less than US$1.00 a day, 38% live in absolute poverty and 75% are worse off now than under Communism. There has been a significant up-turn economically since 1999 with a more stable government and increased earnings from oil exports. In 2001 some experts predicted an imminent economic crisis. HDI 0.747; 71st/174. Public debt 26% of GNP. Income/person $2,680 (9% of USA).
Russia has known little but autocracy or tyranny since it became a country in the 8th Century. The Tsarist Empire collapsed in 1917 following the Bolshevik Communist revolution. Russia dominated the USSR from its founding in 1922, and the Communist leadership exploited both the ordinary Russian people, the many ethnic groups and client satellite states it seized or controlled. The resentment of the oppressed hastened the dismemberment of the USSR once central control in Moscow was weakened. A multi-party federal democracy was instituted in 1990 but the subsequent decade was traumatic. The tensions and confrontation between reformers and traditionalists, Westernizers and Slavophiles, Moscow and the restive republics and regions all hindered balanced development. The unexpected election of President Putin in 1999 has had much public support and restored authority at the centre to initiate change. Some fear a xenophobic nationalism and an erosion of basic freedoms. A large part of the press and media were once more directly or indirectly controlled by the government by 2001.
Freedom of religion written into the constitution. There is no formal state church, but Orthodoxy's 1,000-year history as part of the culture of Russia gives the Church enormous political influence. The 1997 federal law on freedom of religion was pushed through the Duma (Parliament) at the insistence of the Orthodox hierarchy. It supersedes all local laws, imposes restrictions on and discriminates against minority religions especially newer arrivals. The legislation is so complex and ambiguous that its application is haphazard. In some areas it has become a pretext for arbitrary restrictions on local and expatriate organizations. Persecution index 58th in the world higher in some Muslim-majority Russian republics.
1 The spectacular collapse of Communism in 1990-1991 with little bloodshed was a direct answer to prayer. The ideology that sought to destroy Christianity and promised to parade the USSR's last Christian on television was defeated by Christians who prayed. Open Doors and others called for a seven-year campaign of prayer for the Soviet Union in 1984 with the specific goal of complete religious liberty and Bibles available for all. Much of this was achieved! Praise God!
2 The break-up of the Soviet Union opened up unprecedented opportunities for evangelism, church-planting, re-establishing a Christian infrastructure, many partnering networks, theological education, Bible translation and distribution. Churches of all kinds doubled from 7,500 to 15,000 in the 1990s. It is reckoned 20% of Russians moved from atheism to some profession of Christianity in that time including many leading politicians.
5 Many hitherto totally unreached peoples Muslim, superficially 'Orthodox' pagans and Buddhist were given the opportunity to hear the gospel for the first time, and in many the first churches were planted.
1 Russia is a proud but despairing nation. It has been systematically plundered and looted by the very ones who once deceived it with the morally destructive Communist ideology. Democracy appears a farce, economic progress an illusion and capitalism another form of banditry. The hopes of spiritual renewal of the early 1990s have been dashed by the failures of both political and Church leadership. Pray that Christian values of loving, sacrificial service and moral integrity might dispel the corrosive impact and legacy of Communism on both society and the Christian Church.
b) Economic stability. Much must be done to set up the legal framework and financial accountability to successfully privatize industry, make services work and encourage investment. The poverty of the majority and their hopelessness has stimulated crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, family breakdown and suicide to alarming heights. Many ordinary people live for months without wages.
c) Justice. The economic levers of society have fallen into the hands of criminal networks that have crippled business initiative and subverted the bureaucracy. There is no chance of change for the better without confronting these dark forces which make a mockery of legislation that cannot be enforced.
d) Building a multi-cultural nation after centuries of imperial and Communist tyrannies and, at times, ethnic genocide. The Chechen war is one manifestation of the feelings of ethnic minorities having suffered injustice and mistreatment not only in the Caucasus but also the Urals, Siberia and the Arctic. Russification policies deprived minorities of their land and wealth and suppressed their languages and cultures. There is an ardent Russian nationalist movement which jeopardizes any move towards fair multi-culturalism and is virulently anti-Semitic and anti-foreign. Such attitudes threaten the integrity and survival of the Russian Federation. Inflamed nationalism severely hinders the progress of the gospel.
e) Upholding constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion. An alliance of the Russian Orthodox Church (hostile propaganda and misrepresentation), the Press (biased reporting) and the local and regional authorities (imposing arbitrary restrictions on religious minorities) all threaten it. Such has been the pressure that the 1997 legislation with its punitive restrictions on religious minorities was passed despite its violation of human and constitutional rights. It became a bureaucratic nightmare involving the re-registration of all churches. Non-Orthodox have been made into second-class citizens, or even strangers in their own land. Pray that this legislation may be nullified and repealed, and true religious freedom re-established. Recent positive court cases and presidential recommendations have eased the pressure since 1999, but the battle is far from over.
f) Health. The combined effects of the collapse of funding for health services, the availability of free abortions for birth control and a general sense of communal despair is causing accelerated population decline through family disintegration, alcoholism, TB, AIDS, high infant mortality and emigration. Pray for improved funding, morale to be restored and Christians to play a greater role in health care.
g) A facing up to present and looming ecological disasters. Many thousands of square kilometres have been made uninhabitable by nuclear disasters and weapons testing (Chernobyl 1986, and parts of the Urals, Kazakhstan and the Arctic) and chemical/biological poisonings. The oil industry has massively polluted vast areas.
3 The Church in Russia has suffered the most severe and sustained persecution of any nation in recent history. All deaths in the gulags (prison camps) between 1920 and 1990 are reckoned at 20 million; a further 16 million perished en route to them many were Christian. It is reckoned 200,000 Christian leaders were martyred and a further 500,000 imprisoned. There were 100,000 church-owned buildings in 1920 (mainly Orthodox); by 1940 only 1,000 were in use by Christians, the rest being seized or destroyed. Structures and ministries were emasculated or manipulated, leadership cowed into compliance and compromise, Christians discriminated against, their children harassed and denied educational opportunities, and millions consigned to years of imprisonment, exile or psychiatric 'treatment'. Give thanks to God for His protection and for enabling His Church to survive, grow and triumph in the end. Praise God also for many agencies in the West who did so much to maintain links between the persecuted Church and Christians in the free world, and to provide Bibles, literature and practical help. Of special mention: UBS, Open Doors, Light in the East (Germany), SGA and Keston Institute in England, Swedish Slavic Mission, Bibles to All (Sweden) and Avainsanoma (Finland).
4 The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) survived Communism and remains the one major symbol of Russian identity. Its liturgy and teachings continue to mould Russian culture. Openly professing Orthodox increased from 30 million in 1985 to 60 million in 2000. The Church is using every possible means to regain its exclusive spiritual dominance lost nearly a century ago. Pray for:
c) A facing up to compromise under Communism. Many of today's leaders have been exposed as tools of the atheists. Compromise brought deep divisions that still remain unaddressed years after Communism's demise.
d) A rooting out of a culture of corruption in the ROC. While attacking Western materialism the ROC has gained a dubious reputation for bribery, simony (awarding church posts for money), smuggling alcohol and tobacco, tax evasion and money laundering.
e) True spiritual life. The ROC claims to speak for all Russians, but only 3% are actively involved and 7% go to church once a month, though 50% claim a nominal allegiance to the Church and may have been baptized. There continues to be a disastrous neglect of the youth of Russia. Passive belief needs to change into a life-changing faith.
f) Renewal movements within the ROC. The traditionalists are the more powerful but are out of touch, clinging to a Slavonic Church liturgy which few understand, and grasping for political power. The reformers are often persecuted but are more Bible-focused, open for change and tolerant. Pray that future leaders may come from this more spiritual movement.
5 The religious freedom of the 1991-1997 period was a time of euphoria, excitement and interest created by disillusionment with the old system and its leaders. The ideological vacuum was rapidly filled by eager foreign Evangelicals, Western and Eastern sects, the indigenous Vissarion movement and a rise in occultism, parapsychology and even Satanism. Roman Catholics multiplied because of their credible opposition to Communism. Evangelical congregations increased from 2,700 in 1990 to possibly 6,000 in 2000 but the Evangelical percentage increase was far less (0.6% to 0.7%). The expected harvest was not brought in to the churches. Pray for the redressing of these weaknesses:
a) Inappropriate evangelism. Huge evangelistic outreaches by foreign evangelists drew many people, glowing reports of 'conversions' gave high profile to the gospel, but long-term results were less encouraging. The long-persecuted churches were culturally isolated, lacked disciplers and could not cope with the new-style aggressive evangelism. Pray for flexibility, adaptability and culturally suitable local church outreach. Today's harsher spiritual climate calls for more effective means to welcome the many who have no understanding of Christian things.
b) The need for practical holiness and integrity in daily life. Communism created a society where deceit, fear, low moral and work standards, and unwillingness to make decisions became normal. This spirit affects many Christians too.
c) Serious divisions. These were rooted in the efforts of Communists to divide Christians. The bitterness between the formerly registered and unregistered churches (Baptists and Pentecostals) continues today. The extreme hostility of some Evangelicals against anything Pentecostal or charismatic hinders cooperation and fellowship. This has been further complicated by imported divisions with the arrival of foreign programmes, finances and teachings. There is still no cooperative network to link together all Evangelicals. Pray for unity in the Holy Spirit and a breaking down of all barriers to fellowship.
d) Emigration of Christians. This has become an unspoken but crippling problem. The overall economic crisis, despair about the future, relentless Orthodox-instigated propaganda against 'sects' and the increase in crime, provoke any with the means or contacts to emigrate to the West. Many of the evangelical population under Communism were ethnically German most Mennonites and many Baptists and Lutherans have now emigrated to Germany. They have been followed by many Russian Evangelicals. Many pastors have left; theological students trained abroad rarely return. The loss of leadership and educators is now crippling growth, damaging morale and hindering vision for the future. A new generation of committed leaders of bold faith is needed.
6 Godly Christian evangelical leaders are too few lack of training in the past, lack of funding today and the loss of many through emigration contribute to this lack. Foreigners cannot fill the gap, but can assist in strengthening local churches and their leadership. The needs:
a) Biblical leadership patterns. Authoritarian leadership is a legacy of Russia's past as is the lack of theological depth. The results are petty legalisms, unquestioned authority, and theological 'fads'.
b) Systematic teaching and expository preaching through the Bible is rare. Pray for the many new theological institutions most of US or Korean origin. There were 120 known in 1998. Pray also for the Euro-Asian Accreditation Association that seeks to ensure common standards in these institutions. Theological education is still too foreign and needs to be rapidly indigenized and address the issues relevant to Russia's unique situation.
c) TEE is an important training tool. SEAN launched a nation-wide programme in 1998 which is being embraced by many denominational and interdenominational networks to assist the thousands of pastors and preachers with minimal theological education. Bible Education by Extension (BEE) is now one of the largest TEE programmes in the world. The Learning Alliance (MAF, ASCP, GEM, Russian Ministries, etc.) are setting up innovative distance learning programmes. Pray for their successful growth and the development of appropriate teaching materials and methods.
7 Vision for outreach. Evangelicals learned to survive under persecution, but this needs to change. There is little indigenous initiative for nation-wide planning those that exist are often of foreign origin. Pray for a new spirit of faith and expectancy and emergence of goals that enthuse local congregations across the Federation. Pray for:
a) Church planting. There is probably a gospel preaching church in Russia for every 30,000 people. Thousands of churches should be planted. Project 250 (Russian Ministries) is a vision for planting a church for every 5,000 people by 2020. Similar visions are being taken up by many expatriate agencies including the Alliance for Saturation Church Planting (UWM, World Witness, CBI, IMB-SBC, NTM, TEAM, The Bible League, Global Missions Fellowship and others). Pray that this might become a network of indigenous and foreign workers that impacts the Federation by training and equipping thousands of church planters.
b) An indigenous trans-denominational vision to emerge. There needs to be initiative and funding for research, publicity and envisioning Russian believers. Evangelical congregations are unevenly distributed.
c) Missions vision. For years, Russian culture and language dominated and those of ethnic minorities was suppressed. Over 18% of the population is non-Russian and speak nearly 100 languages. Pray for a missions vision in the Russian church and ability to bridge the cultural and social barriers Russian missionaries face. Ukrainians have been far more active than Russians in cross-cultural outreach in Russia. Pray for the launching of many more Russian mission agencies.
8 Expatriate Christians responded in large numbers to the sudden opening of Russia in 1990. Some estimate over 1,500 missions and church-based agencies launched into ministry delivering aid, support, preaching, evangelizing and Bible teaching. There were no structures and fellowship mechanisms in the country to coordinate or give guidance to this inrush. Much good was achieved, but also much bad perpetrated importation of Western and Asian cultural forms or denominational differences, insensitivity to indigenous culture and leadership, unwise use of funds, and ecclesiastical empire-building. Most were short-term, relatively few were committed to long-term immersion in the language and culture. This and the assiduous activities of the Moonies, JWs, Mormons and others provoked an increasing negative reaction from the people. Conditions for foreign workers are now far less favourable, visas hard to obtain and renew. A number have been expelled. There are estimated to be 3,000 or more expatriate Christians serving in Russia. Pray for:
a) Long-term missionaries for good relations with local government authorities, the issue of visas, local acceptance, wise deployment and protection from violence and malicious accusations. Some leading church and government officials hint that missionaries are linked with foreign intelligence agencies.
b) All expatriates to be culturally sensitive and respectful of Russian culture and links with Orthodoxy, and supportive of local initiatives, visions and leadership in churches. This was not a strong characteristic of many in the 1990s.
c) Missionaries and agencies to be models in networking and cooperative fellowship. There are several inter-agency networks Alliance for Social and Cultural Progress (ASCP), and Association for Spiritual Renewal as well as partnerships focused on the major ethnic minorities for Bible translation, outreach, etc.
a) Over 90% of Russians have no meaningful link with a church whether Orthodox or not. Evangelical Christianity has not gained a firm foothold in European Russia unlike in neighbouring Ukraine. In Siberia, Evangelicals have enjoyed more growth. In contrast the Jehovah's Witnesses have seen massive growth which has its negative impact on Evangelicals.
c) Muslims are becoming more visible and outspoken and radical Islam is increasing in influence. Around 15% of the population are of recognized Muslim ethnic groups Turkic Central Asians, Caucasus peoples, Kurds, etc., but only 2-3% would be practising Muslims. There is a growing sense of confrontation provoked by the earlier Russian war in Afghanistan and continuing war in Chechnya. Muslims equate Christianity with crude Orthodox Christian attempts at forcible conversions. Pray that historic, social and spiritual barriers to the gospel may be removed.
d) The 25 million Russians of the 'near abroad'. The collapse of the USSR left many of them as ethnic minorities in the 15 new states formed often hated and resented. Their status and future are far from secure. A further 9 million Russians have emigrated back to the Russian Federation often with very little. Pray that many among them might become receptive to the gospel.
e) Students and young people. Over 3.6 million study in 48 universities and 866 higher education institutes. Various international student agencies work with networks of Christian groups on campuses. There are strong influences from both secularism and American culture, but no more than a curiosity about Christianity few are ready for the demands of discipleship in a highly dysfunctional society and the pervasive suspicions sown by Orthodox propaganda. Pray for strong witnessing groups that impact intellectuals, and effective leadership for them.
f) Children. They are at high risk of violence, abuse, neglect and abandonment because of the economic crisis and severe breakdown of family life. Some estimate that there are 1.2 million street children in the cities, 650,000 orphans housed in grim, inadequate orphanages and many in prisons. Many turn to extreme violence and crime. There is a growing concern for churches to become involved in ministry to them. Pray for the emerging umbrella organization To Russian Children with Love linking 40 agencies and Russian churches as strategies are developed to meet their needs. CEF run training courses for children's evangelists and a BCC with 70,000 children involved.
g) Alcoholics. No country has such a severe alcohol abuse problem as Russia. Official estimates are that 40% of men and 7% of women are alcoholics. Anything is stolen and sold for vodka. The effects on family life and society are staggering. Ministry in this area is limited. In 1997 the ASCP launched OPORA an evangelical body set up to develop ministries for those involved in substance abuse, training for churches, setting up of support groups, training workers, producing literature, etc. Other churches and agencies are beginning to address this serious problem.
i) AIDS victims. AIDS has grown massively through drug use and promiscuity. In 1997 100,000 were known to be infected. Estimates for 2000 are 800,000, but no one knows the true number because of inadequate healthcare funding. It is feared that by 2010 there will be 500,000 AIDS orphans.
j) Prisoners. Over 1.7 million are behind bars in overcrowded prisons, 20,000 die annually, TB affects 15% and AIDS is spreading rapidly. A Russian ministry, Liberty Through Jesus, reaches out to them. Much more needs to be done.
k) New religionists. Some claim massive followings. The Hare Krishna are found all over the RF. The indigenous messianic Vissarion movement claims 10 million followers, mainly in Siberia. The JWs are now 260,000 in number. Parapsychologists, hypnotists, shamanists and Satanists have gained wide publicity and influence. Pray that Christians may be trained and armed with the Truth to combat these and win those ensnared. The Center for Apologetics Research seeks to help pastors and churches with training and literature.
l) Unreached peoples. There may be up to 100 ethnic minorities without an indigenous church or where work is still in a pioneer stage. (See below under the different ethnic republics.) Pray for effective partnering and viable strategies to plant churches among them. Several widely dispersed peoples need prayer:
i) The Jews once numbered over 2 million, but now are reduced to a quarter of this. Many are emigrating to Israel, but there are important concentrations in European Russian cities. Though most are secularized, some have been open to the gospel and come to Christ a large proportion of Messianic Jews in Israel are of recent Russian and Ukrainian origin. There are also pockets of Georgian, Tat and Hill Jews in the Caucasus region totalling 14,000 who are still unreached.
ii) The Roma (Gypsy). These live scattered over European Russia with many in the Urals. In some areas there has been an awakening and churches have been planted. About 5% of Russian Gypsies are Evangelicals.
iii) The Chinese. Illegal immigrants into Siberia and the Russian Far East are increasing and may now number over 1m. There are two Chinese congregations in Moscow.
a) Bible distribution. The Swedish-founded Bible translation agency IBT has had a praiseworthy ministry since 1973 of translating the Scriptures in 50 languages (3Bi 12NT 36por) and the Children's Bible in 28. The Bible Society of Russia (BSR) was re-established in 1992 and now has a large depot from which 2 million Bibles and NTs are distributed annually. A long-awaited modern Russian translation of the Bible is underway.
b) Bible translation is an ongoing challenge. The BSR(UBS), IBT and SIL are working together on 80 translation projects. There are 30 million people who speak languages without a NT. Pray for the personnel, competent native language speakers, finances and freedom to complete this daunting task. Among many of these peoples there may be no more than a handful of believers.
c) Christian literature. There are now several Christian Publishers. MIRT, Bibles for All and Triad being three large ones. Printing, distribution and sales are immense challenges due to Russia's size and economic crisis. Far too little is locally written. Massive free distributions of Western-produced literature has often proved inappropriate, costly and damaging to local initiative. Pray for effective cooperation in literature strategies.
d) Newspaper evangelism. The Christian agency Good News (supported by AMG Int., German Evangelical Alliance, SGA and others) has bought space in newspapers with over 3 billion messages distributed by 2000 and netting a letter response of 2 million.
e) MAF-USA entered Russia in 1992 and from its base in Moscow has developed an unusual service logistics, warehousing of Christian materials for 70 organizations and supplying literature for Russian Ministries, CoMission II, distance learning and email/internet services.
g) Christian radio played an honoured role during Communist rule in evangelism and encouragement of Christians. The influence of Christian agencies such as TWR, FEBC, HCJB, IBRA, Russian Christian Radio (Earl Poysti) and others cannot be underestimated. Today these same agencies are free to buy broadcast time on local FM stations in cities across the RF and also transmit internationally from Radio Moscow (TWR) and Siberia (TWR to India in 28 languages). Praise God for this astonishing reversal! Radio Theos has a significant impact from stations in St Petersburg and Moscow. HCJB is coordinating a consortium of agencies to set up 24 hours/day Christian broadcasting by satellite to the whole country. Pray for continued freedom to broadcast, for programme producers, for eternal fruit.
Please turn the many facts that follow into prayer for the salvation of these many unreached peoples and for the building up of the Body of Christ.
The Russian Federation is a complex patchwork of republics, regions, territories and districts. These are grouped below by geo-cultural affinities because of their commonalities. All have suffered severely through Russian imperial conquest, Communist oppression, cultural suppression, crude Russification and imposition of Russian Orthodoxy. Some have survived ethnocide and massive deportations under Stalin. A number of Caucasus and Siberian peoples lost half their populations during that time. Pray that reconciliation between peoples through deep repentance and forgiveness might be achieved and the negatives of the past no longer hinder the spread of the knowledge of the love of Christ.
Republic and regional populations Komi 1.18m; Sakha (Yakutia) 1.02m; Karelia 785,000.
Districts Khanty-Mansi 1.33m; Yamalo-Nenets 488,000; Komi-Permyak 157,000; Chukotka 91,000; Nenets 48,000; Taymyr 47,000; Koryat 33,000; Evenki 20,000.
The climate is harsh and living conditions extreme. Most of the indigenous peoples are of hunting-gathering and reindeer herding cultures. The Russian communities are mostly involved in the oil industry or mining, and live in the towns.
1 Karelia was seized from Finland after World War II. Most of the Karelian Finns fled to Finland; 74% of the population is Russian. Pray for adequate leadership for the churches. There are about 15,000 Evangelicals.
2 Komi and Komi-Permyak in the north Urals are rich in minerals. The Finno-Ugric Komi number 344,000; most are still pagan. Evangelicals among Russians (mainly) and Komi number about 1,500. They faced increased opposition in the late 1990s. Many areas are without a witness.
3 The Nenets (35,000) and the Finno-Ugric Khanti (22,000), Mansi (8,000) and Saami (3,000) are largely shamanists. There are only a handful of committed believers and a few fellowships using their own languages. There is openness to the gospel as long as it is not linked to Russian dominance.
4 Sakha has a high degree of autonomy and is potentially wealthy with gold, diamonds and other minerals. Half the population is Russian and the other half the indigenous Turkic Sakha (Yakut 400,000). Paganism among the Sakha and related Evenki (32,000) has revived. Evangelical work was pioneered by the Ukrainian Light of the Gospel (now Light in the East). InterAct and other agencies have joined them. In 1987 there were 30 Yakut believers, but in 1999 there were 45 churches or groups in 32 of the 505 towns with 300 active believers.
5 Chukotka is the home of the Eskimo-related Chukchi (17,000) and Koryak of the northern Kamchatka Peninsula peoples. A number of Chukchi have come to Christ through Alaskan Eskimo evangelists from across the Bering Strait.
Republics Dagestan 2,098,000; Chechnya 1,200,000; Kabardino-Balkariya 790,000; Severnaya Ossetiya-Alaniya (North Ossetiya) 663,000; Adygeya 450,000; Karachayevo-Cherkesiya 436,000; Ingushetiya 300,000.
1 The North Caucasus region lies between the Black and Caspian Seas. There are 8 republics (including Abkhazia) and a medley of 50-60 ethnic groups of Caucasus, Turkic and Iranian origin. These restive peoples have long resented Russian domination. The Chechen wars of the 1990s have destabilized the whole region. Pray for wisdom, restraint and moderation to replace present extremes and rhetoric and for a fair political solution especially in Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetiya and Abkhazia.
2 Islam predominates in all the indigenous peoples except the Ossetians who are largely nominal Orthodox. The Islamists, with much help from the Muslim world, have wrested the initiative in Chechnya and its war against the Russians. They press for a single Islamist North Caucasus state. Pray that Islamist plans may be thwarted and the whole region experience peace, progress and religious freedom.
3 The North Caucasus peoples are some of the least-reached on earth, and certainly live in Europe's least evangelized region. Most of the 50 or so ethnic groups have no churches or Christians and little or nothing of the Scriptures in their languages. Pray for open doors and favourable conditions for Christians to reside and witness. At present Westerners would be prime targets for kidnapping. Pray for the inter-agency partnership that is working to bring blessing in Christ to this region. Pray also for IBT and its work of translation of the Bible into 25 languages of the area.
4 The Cherkess (Circassian) people (585,000) were divided by Soviet ethnic engineering into three republics Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkess. They speak three dialects, Kabardian, Cherkess and Adyghe. Over 1.5 million live scattered over the Middle East and Eurasia. They were Christian from the 6th to 15th Century when they turned to Islam. In 1993 only 5 Christians were known, but by 1999 this had climbed to 40. These few believers are subject to intimidation. Pray for the small emerging house groups and those Russian and expatriate workers seeking to reach and help them (IBT, Light in the East, Bible League). The NT was completed in Adyghe in 1991.
5 The Turkic Balkar (80,000) and Karachay (169,000) are nominally Muslim and live among the Cherkess. The Russian New Way Mission works among the Balkar and also produces literature in the language. The Karachay can read the Balkar NT. There are only a handful of believers.
6 Chechyna has long resisted Russian rule. The wars of the 1990s continue with the Russians controlling the plains in the day and Chechen guerrillas the mountains. This war is part of a wider strategy to form an Islamic Caucasus state. The 950,000 Chechen are almost entirely Muslim and have been radicalized by indigenous Sufism and international Islamists. Over 100,000 Chechen have died and 500,000 are refugees in surrounding states and RF republics. The nation is traumatized, the country devastated and almost all the limited Christian presence eliminated or expelled. Christian aid organizations have withdrawn to work among refugees in North Ossetiya and Ingushetiya (Salvation Army, Russian Ministries, World Concern, WVI). Pray that out of this suffering might emerge a Chechen Church only 10 believers are known.
7 Dagestan is 94% Muslim and home to 34 ethnic groups. The largest indigenous groups: Avar 602,000; Darghin 374,000; Lezhgi 238,000; Lak 122,000; Tabassaran 98,000; Nogai 91,000. It is the poorest republic in the RF. The nearby Chechen War has deeply destabilized the republic. There is a rapid rise in extreme Muslim Wahhabite groups (7% of the population) who are violently bent on forming an Islamic republic. All Christian work is under threat and dangerous for Christian workers kidnapping, intimidation and violence have been commonplace. There are possibly no more than 10 individual believers among the 34 indigenous peoples, though the 1,000-member Hosanna Church in the capital has many Muslim background believers. IBT is working on 14 languages (Mark's gospel in 6; The Avar NT for 2005). Tabassaran is reputed to be the world's most complex language.
8 The Ossetians live in both Georgia and Severnaya-Ossetiya. The republic is struggling to cope with the disruptions caused by the Chechen war (refugees) and war with the Ingush but there are few Evangelicals and little outreach. There is a revival of paganism.
9 Abkhazia is an unrecognized republic of 525,000 people that emerged from the Georgian-Abkhaz war in the early 1990s. There are many fSU peoples in Abkhazia; Abkhazians being only 17% of the population and are almost all nominally Muslim, overlaying Abkhaz paganism. There are very few Evangelicals and virtually none among the Abkhazians. IBT is translating the NT.
Republics Buryatiya 1,053,000; Khakasiya 586,000; Kalmykiya 319,000; Tuva 309,000; Altay 202,000.
Districts Ust-Ordyn Buryat 143,000; Agin Buryat 79,000.
All but the Altay and Khakassians are Buddhist in culture. Buddhism is experiencing a renaissance.
1 Kalmykiya lies north-west of the Caspian Sea. There is rapid desertification and impoverishment due to local corruption and mismanagement. Kalmyks are 45% of the republic's population. The Kalmyk are related to the Mongolians and are Europe's only Buddhist people. There is much occult bondage. A Ukrainian mission Light of the Gospel pioneered church planting; other missions followed. There are only 50 believers and several fellowships of Kalmyk. The NT is planned for completion in 2001.
2 The Buryat people live north of Mongolia, around Lake Baikal, which contains 20% of the world's fresh water. Half of the 450,000 Buryat live in Buryatiya. They are the largest indigenous ethnic group in Siberia. Lamaistic Buddhism has revived considerably since 1990. An abortive attempt at evangelizing the Buryat by the LMS from England (1817-1830) was ended by Buddhist and Orthodox opposition. Since 1990 a partnership of 26 agencies are working for their evangelization. There are now some believers and small, but growing churches. The NT is being translated.
3 Tuva (Uriankhai) lies north-west of Mongolia. The Tuvinians (207,000) are a Turkic people who suffered severely under Communist rule. They are renowned for their unique khomeii singing with two voices. Tuva is economically destitute; crime, alcohol abuse, the occult and drugs are major social problems. Lamaistic Buddhism and shamanism are strong. There were no believers in 1990. Since 1997 there has been significant response to the gospel with spiritual strongholds breached. The AoG now have 14 churches with over 1,000 believers. The NT is due for completion in 2001. The JESUS film was completed in 1997.
4 Khakasiya to the north-west of Tuva is 80% Russian. The Khakass people are a small minority. They are Turkic shamanists with very few Christians and little evangelical work. They have requested the Tatar people to send Muslim missionaries. The Evangelical Lutheran Mission was forcibly closed in 1998. Pray that this small people might be evangelized.
Republics Bashkortostan 4,097,000; Tatarstan 3,760,000; Udmurtia 1,639,000; Chuvashiya 1,361,000; Mordoviya 956,000; Mari-El 766,000.
The South Urals are rich in minerals and agricultural land. The indigenous peoples of three republics (Bashkortostan, Chuvashiya and Tatarstan) are Turkic and descendants of the ancient Bolgar peoples. The other three republics are basically Finno-Ugric. The Chuvash, Udmurt, Mari, Erzya and Mordvin are superficially Orthodox and basically animist and the Tatar and Bashkort (Bashkir) largely Muslim.
1 Tatarstan has abundant resources minerals and farmland. It has a high degree of political autonomy. The Tatar have long been Muslim and are Russia's largest Muslim people (5.7 million) though many are nominal or secular. About 10% of Tatars are nominally Orthodox. Since 1990 Islam has advanced with 500 mosques built by 1996 and an Islamic University founded in 1999.
a) Legislation passed in 1999 is even more draconian than the 1997 RF laws. The Orthodox and Muslims banded together to prevent other faiths gaining a foothold. The state has the power to liquidate any religion that is not officially registered and that is very hard to obtain. Pray that religious freedom might be upheld.
b) There are some evangelical churches or groups, most Russian-speaking and about 30, mostly small, groups in Kazan, the capital. Tatar believers increased during the 1990s but still only number around 300 most in Russian-language churches and some in 15 Tatar-speaking fellowships. Increased persecution has brought about closer fellowship among Evangelicals historically divided by language and the charismatic issue. Pray especially for the Tatar Church to be protected the authorities have harassed them.
b) There were 12 congregations of Evangelicals in 1998, but none which used the Bashkort language. By 2001 there were 6 Bashkort-speaking fellowships and 150 known believers. Registration of churches is very difficult and the authorities obstructive. There has been response among university students. Pray for the planting and growth of mature Bashkort churches.
3 The Chuvash are predominantly secular/atheist with a nominal Orthodox background. The rise of nationalism has stimulated a return to paganism and a growing interest in Islam. There are a few evangelical churches but most use Russian. A new translation of the NT and Bible is underway but finance is lacking to print what has been prepared for publication.
4 The Hill and Meadow Mari are indigenous to Mari El, 700km east of Moscow. They became nominally Orthodox two centuries ago. About 30% are Orthodox, 60% syncretistic/pagan. In the 1990s the local government declared paganism as the official religion. Today there are 35 Orthodox, and about 25 struggling Baptist, Lutheran and Pentecostal churches. The two Mordvin peoples of Mordoviya, the Erzya and Moksha, are similar to the Mari, but more strongly Orthodox in culture.
5 The Udmurt are 31% of the population of Udmurtiya. The enforced Orthodoxization of the Udmurt bred a hatred and fear of Russians. Since 1990 there has been a revival of paganism. Despite negative propaganda and banning of all missionaries, there are 21 officially registered evangelical churches and others still applying. There are 7,000 active evangelical church members out of a 50,000 strong community. The Udmurt OT is being translated.
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