For seventy years following World War I, the official state religion in
Russia was Atheism. The country had one of the most
liberal constitution in the world with firm guarantees of human rights and
freedoms. Unfortunately for the citizens of the USSR, it was almost never applied in practice.
Many faith groups in the country lost the confidence of their membership
during the communist era because so many religious leaders cooperated with, and/or
were employed by, the KGB -- the Russian secret police.
The country's predominate religion is the Russian
Orthodox Church. The government gives preferential treatment to this group
in the belief that it increases social cohesiveness. Unfortunately, this policy
has negative effects on minority faith groups.
There is a strong anti-cult movement in Russia that is
opposed to "religious extremism" and includes many benign new religious
movements within that category.