Get a FREE copy of VOM’s Global Prayer Guide with any gift

Give Now

Russia and Areas Under Its Control


The “Russian World” (or Russkiy Mir) is an ideology being used by the regime of President Vladimir Putin, top leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and rebel factions in areas under Russian-rebel control. While Putin uses this ideology to present himself as the protector of Christianity in Russia, one of its real purposes is to restrict Christians and churches outside the Russian Orthodox Church. The ideology upholds the concept of a “Holy Russia” (Holy Rus), an empire comprising Russia and nearby nations and areas that were historically under Russian control, or where ethnic Russians and other native Russian-speakers are currently found. The “Russian World” ideology seeks to establish one political center (Moscow), one spiritual center (Kyiv), one language (Russian) and one church (Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate) that will partner with Russia’s political leader to dictate and enforce the unity of moral, spiritual and cultural views. Some members of the Eastern Orthodox Church have condemned the “Russian World” ideology as heretical because it promotes the unbiblical idea that the church should be based on ethnicity, nation or language.

Christians within Russia who are not part of the Russian Orthodox Church are legally restricted in several of the activities of their faith, especially evangelism. While the Putin regime hasn’t yet used these laws to severely persecute Christians in Russia, there is great concern at how ideologies that lead to persecution are being instilled in Russians through media portrayals, government edicts and Russian Orthodox Church teaching. For example, Russia’s 2016 Yarovaya Law (named for the law’s political champion, Irina Yarovaya) claims to counter terrorism and secure public safety, but the law reflects the “Russian World” ideology and restricts Christians’ freedom of worship and evangelism. The law and its amendments characterize Christians and churches outside the Russian Orthodox Church as religious extremists, criminalizing the speech and activities of Russian Christians who faithfully witness for Christ.

Though the Putin regime is currently exercising restraint in the persecution of its citizens within Russia, Christians in Russian-controlled areas outside the country face increased restrictions and suffer violence at the hands of those acting on behalf of the regime. In these areas, churches have been violently attacked, pastors have been attacked and abducted, and all Christians face new, severely restrictive religious laws. In one area, an early draft constitution included a declaration that the chief and dominant faith would be Orthodoxy as professed by the Russian Orthodox Church. In other areas, the establishment of religious communities requires the permission of Russian-backed rebel forces. Churches outside the Russian Orthodox Church, even those that previously had been legally registered, are being denied permission to exist, and unregistered churches face punishment. In addition, all Christian literature must be approved by Russian-backed authorities before it can be legally distributed.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray that Christians who worship outside the Russian Orthodox Church will endure the persecution they face.
  • Pray that Christians and front-line workers in Russian-controlled areas will have opportunities to reach the lost. Pray, too, for their protection.
  • Pray that the body of Christ in Russia and areas under its control will be “the light of the world” and a “city on a hill” that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).