New regime responds to protests with force in Russia

By March 7, 2012

Russia (MNN) — After three months of peaceful anti-Putin
protests, police hauled away more than 500 people who were part of unsanctioned protests this week.

Sunday's election results would put Vladimir Putin in the
Presidency for his third six-year term. The returns show him capturing almost
64% of the votes in Sunday's election. He was president from 2000 to

Protestors accused Vladimir Putin of stealing Russia's
presidential election and demanded his immediate resignation. Sergey Rakhuba with Russian
explains the distrust of the government. "They
did anything possible to secure a victory for the third presidential term for
Vladimir Putin."

Despite police interference, Putin's opposition is trying to schedule another protest. Opposition
leaders said they wouldn't protest on International Women's Day, March 8, but rather on March 10, so far, without approval
from city authorities.

Rakhuba says some of the unrest stems from suspicion over
the integrity of the vote, while another part is due to concerns over Putin's
regime strategy. "It's not clear
where President Putin will take the direction: either more liberal and flexible
approach in terms of internal politics and foreign politics, or he will be more
strict than ever before."

If Putin reverts back to Soviet-era tactics, ministry work
with outside connections could face a challenge. Rakhuba says they've been readying
themselves by working with those who will be in the best place to effect
change. "Bringing the Gospel to
those people, especially the young generation, is still bigger than ever before.
We always appreciate our partners in ministry continuing to pushing those
initiatives. We agree to train, mobilize young people, provide resources, and
they will bring the transformational change."

It's the most likely chance of seeing any improvement in the
current government. "Through their
action of faith, on behalf of their churches, they will reach out to those
communities and see all these problems as an opportunity for evangelism. Then, we really hope that corruption will
stop growing."

Instead of simply protesting, Rakhuba says, School Without
Walls students trained by Russian Ministries are bringing God's presence into
their work places, resulting in real transformation.

God is calling Next Generation Christian leaders to
establish "church-plants" in this new frontier of freedom seekers that the
church has failed to focus upon. Rakhuba says, "Continue praying so that the evangelical
church, the Next Generation, will bring the transformational change to the
Russian society."

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