Russia’s Duma puts off bill that would restrict foreign missionaries

By December 8, 2005

Russia (MNN) — Revolutions in the Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia are the reasons behind a proposed law in Russia that could restrict foreign missionary work in that nation. The bill is meant to restrict foreign political action groups, funded by other countries. Unfortunately, this will have a negative impact on mission organizations.

Russian Ministries’ Vice President Sergey Rakhuba says, “It means that many of those missionaries who live in Russia and have foreign affiliation. (When) they need to renew their visas and they will need to prove that the funds they receive from abroad are used strictly for religious purposes.”

The second read of the bill was scheduled for December 9th, but that has been pushed back to December 16th as President Vladimir Putin amends the legislation.

Rakhuba says the Russian government is paranoid about outside political influence. “The Russian government is threatened by the foreign activity and involvement in those democratic revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and other former Soviet Union countries. They feel that they’re threatened by that and they want to stop all this funding.”

It’s not a direct attack on mission activity, says Rakhuba, but he’s concerned. “The Orthodox church (could) take advantage of this and will put more pressure on the Russian government to use this law against national NGO that are funded by foreign partnerships.”

Russian Ministries is a nationally registered organization. However, Rakhuba says 70-percent of their funding comes from outside Russia.

Rakhuba is praying that God would grant wisdom to the Russian government. “So they will continue giving freedom to the evangelical church and all Christian initiatives in Russia that brings spiritual renewal to that long time suffering country.”

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