Russia’s election outcome expected, ministry remains alert

By March 4, 2008

Russia (MNN) — Russia's
president-elect, Dmitry Medvedev, has vowed to stay the course and continue
leading the country under former president Vladimir Putin's vision. 

Sunday's election results showed
Medvedev with 70 percent of the vote. However, there were election watchers and opponents who are calling the
election flawed and questioning the validity of the results.

The international community, too,
has been muted in its greeting. France
and Germany say the process did not meet their standards for a democratic
election. However, the United States,
Britain and the European Union offered congratulations and said they would work
with Russia's new leader when he takes office.

Putin will not be entirely out of
the picture. Although he will not be president any longer (May), he pledged to accept an offer of the prime
minister's post. Add to that United
Russia's (Putin's party) Duma win, and it seems there are few allies for
Christians left in government seats.

The concern is that Putin's aims
for Russia will be unfriendly to open religious freedoms.  Already there are tightened restrictions on
those doing evangelistic work. A leader
that has vowed to continue in this vein has unsettled many ministries.

However, there's a bright
side. Slavic Gospel Association's Joel Griffith says
although Medvedev was Putin's hand-picked protege, ministries still have some
time to prepare for indigenous ministry.  "Look at Turkmenistan when their new president took over after
Sapamurat Niyazov passed away. Incremental things have been happening. There has been change, but none that I would
say has been sweeping, overnight. I just think we need to hold our expectations
in check and wait and see what happens."

It is evident that there will be
change, and if true to the current course, that change could make evangelistic
work difficult in the coming years. Griffith
says prayer is the best course of action. "Our prayer is that the new leadership, whoever it is in the
ministerial offices and under President Medvedev, will once again
turn back to a more Western-style freedom and way of doing things and
that they will lessen restrictions on evangelical ministry and not increase
them."

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.

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