Russia (MNN) — Last week we told you about two new Russian laws that are expected to curb religious freedom even more. This week, we wanted to look into these laws to figure out how they will affect Christians–especially those serving evangelical missions or relief organizations.
One of the laws will leave it up to authorities whether or not an organization can operate in Russia. President of Mission Eurasia Sergey Rakhuba tells us who’s being targeted. “Undesirable NGOs in Russia. If they decide that they’re undesirable, they don’t need to go to court. They simple need an administrative order which can kick them out of Russia.”
The BBC reports it’s a Kremlin move aimed at stifling dissent. The Christian Science Monitor says a draft blacklist prepared by the State Duma includes Moscow Carnegie Center, the corruption watchdog Transparency International, the New York-based Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.
The definition of “undesirable” is open to interpretation, but the Interfax news agency said it would apply to organizations deemed to pose a threat to the “foundations of Russia’s constitutional order, defensive capacity, and security.”
The United States has expressed concern over a new Russian law giving prosecutors a lot of power. A person could be jailed up to six years if found in violation of the law. The U.S. State Department said it’s “deeply troubled” by the law and says this new power will further restrict the work of civil society in Russia. It is a further example of the Russian government’s growing crackdown on independent voices and intentional steps to isolate the Russian people from the world.
Will Mission Eurasia be considered an undesirable NGO? Rakhuba says, “We hope not because we are a national ministry there. We definitely have concerns. They can pick and choose anyone as an undesirable under this law and label us as a foreign agent.”
Rakhuba adds, “They’re crushing any opposition [who is] concerned about the Kremlin dictatorial politics. Propaganda definitely gives some results. 87% of the people who live in Russia support Kremlin politics today.”
How will this affect the work of Mission Eurasia? From an evangelistic perspective, Rakhuba says, “We encourage pastors and people that we work with in Russia to preach the Gospel.”
Rakhuba says this new law was a surprise. He’s also not sure what this means for the future. So, he’s asking Christians to pray “that the evangelical believers, that the church, will continue to have a right to function and spread the Gospel in freedom.”
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