Putin’s sway grows stronger in Russia; ministry concerned

By December 6, 2007

Russia (MN) — Parliamentary elections in Russia could spell
trouble for mission groups. The outcome
of Sunday's vote is bad news for the West, as there are few allies left in
power in the government. That, coupled with the association of Christianity with the West, and Slavic Gospel
Association's
Joel Griffith calls the results of the parliamentary elections "troubling." 

"That certainly is going to bear watching, because
obviously if you have an anti-Western Parliament in place and if the
government begins to really step up in being anti-Western, it certainly could
have an impact on missionaries overseas. Who knows what effect it will have on Bible-preaching churches?" 

President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party was
guaranteed 300 of the State Duma's 450 seats, giving the party the two-thirds
majority needed to modify the constitution.

There's a marked contrast in the makeup of the incoming and outgoing government
body, too. 

The incoming Duma consists of:  United Russia, 315 seats; Communists, 57;
Liberal Democrats 40; Just Russia 38.

The outgoing Duma looked more diverse: Kremlin-backed
United Russia, 299 seats; Kremlin-sympathetic Communists, 47; nationalistic
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 39; populist Just Russia, 33. Smaller
parties, independent lawmakers, 32. Ten seats are vacant due to resignations.

That means that Communists remain the only true
opposition to President Putin in the parliament. Although they support his stance
in foreign relations, they are scathing about his economic and social policies.

While Russia has not yet resurrected the Iron Curtain, there
are concerns about the changes coming. "In a lot of regions, churches are
able to function and worship and evangelize without much interference. But in
other regions of Russia, you might well get opposition from local authorities. So it just remains to be seen what this new Parliament will do."

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. Please pray that the doors remain open for mission work. Pray that believers would remain free to
share and practice their faith throughout the CIS. And pray that the testimony of the Christians
would be strong in the days ahead.

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