Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Russia's election outcome expected, ministry remains alert

Russia-Russia's president-elect, Dmitry Medvedev, has vowed to stay the course and continue leading the country under former president Vladimir Putin's vision.Sunday's election results showed Medvedev with 70 percent of the vote.However,there were election watchers and opponents who are calling the election flawed and questioning the validity of the results.The international community, too, has been muted in its greeting.France and Germany say the process did not meet their standards for a democratic election. However,the United States, Britain and the European Union offered congratulations and said they would work with Russia's new leader when he takes office.Putin will not be entirely out of the picture.Although he will not be president any longer (May), he pledged to accept an offer of the prime minister's post.Add to that United Russia's (Putin's party) Duma win, and it seems there are few allies for Christians left in government seats.The concern is that Putin's aims for Russia will be unfriendly to open religious freedoms.Already there are tightened restrictions on those doing evangelistic work. A leader that has vowed to continue in this vein has unsettled many ministries.However, there's a bright side. Slavic Gospel Association's Joel Griffith says although Medvedev was Putin's hand-picked protege, ministries still have some time to prepare for indigenous ministry."Look at Turkmenistan when their new president took over after Sapamurat Niyazov passed away. Incremental things have been happening. There has been change, but none that I would say has been sweeping, overnight. I just think we need to hold our expectations in check and wait and see what happens."It is evident that there will be change, and if true to the current course, that change could make evangelistic work difficult in the coming years. Griffith says prayer is the best course of action. "Our prayer is that the new leadership, whoever it is in the ministerial offices and under President Medvedev, will once again turn back to a more Western-style freedom and way of doing things and that they will lessen restrictions on evangelical ministry and not increase them."SGA serves Bible-preaching churches in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, helping native pastors and churches reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As in the days of Noah....

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