Russian President Putan begins second term — will it hurt religious freedom?

By May 10, 2004

Russia (MNN) — President Vladimir Putin took the oath of office last week for his second term. However, Christians aren’t very excited about his landslide election.

Alexander Botanov is with Russian Ministries in Moscow. “Many of my friends, they were not very glad about it because they understood that the freedoms that we expected would come to our country with his election in the first term, there wasn’t as much freedom as was expected,” says Botanov.

Evangelical church may suffer because of his landslide victory. Botanov says Putin doesn’t have the pressure of pleasing opponents. “He seems to be an authoritative leader. He seems to show favor for the Orthodox Church in Russia. So, those who belong to protestant churches, I don’t think they have great hopes for him to give more freedoms during his second term of leadership,” says Botanov.

Botanov says religious freedom issues come in several forms. “When you start a new church, or train new people, or you rent building for different church activities we face more and more problems when we try to do that,” he says.

Russians in major cities seem to be apathetic to religion. Botanov says stability is a big reason for the apathy. “One of the main reasons people re-elected Putin again, was because he was a symbol of stability. Unfortunately, I think it means that they will not be as much open to Christianity, because most of them care about how to make their living better,” says Botanov.

However, Botanov says there are many turning to Christ and there’s an on-going need in the church. “People beginning to ask questions. We have more and more people coming to God. And, unfortunately there are not many people prepared to answer those questions.” That means spiritual growth is lacking.

Pray for Russian Ministries as they recruit and train these people who could have a huge impact on the church.

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