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For week ended January 09, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

"> New Russian leadership not likely to impact missionaries
(BYU) NewsNet 7Jan00 N1
By Annie Gardner: Associate NewsNet Web Editor

The LDS Church doesn't expect any changes in the status of missionary work in Russia because of the surprising leadership change in that country December 31st. According to BYU professor of Russian Donald Jarvis, who served as a Mission President in Moscow and Yekaterinburg until last June, Boris Yeltsin was a strong defender of civil rights and Putin is likely to continue that stance.

"Putin isn't what you would call a radical nationalist. He is Yeltsin's appointed successor and he will more than likely continue Yeltsin's policies in civil rights," Jarvis told BYU NewsNet. He expects Putin to be a strong leader in Russia's economy.

Todd Foglesong, visiting professor at the University of Utah agrees that it is unlikely that the Church will suffer. "It's a possibility, but not much more than a possibility. The law benefits Russian religions. If it did happen, the LDS Church would have the protection of the Russian courts," said Foglesong, an expert in Eastern European politics.

Observers have worried about religious freedom in Russia because of the statements of ultra-Nationalist politicians against foreign influences in the country. Unless Putin decides to act against outside religions, no threat to LDS proselyting efforts is expected. But Putin must also pass muster with the Russian people, who will vote him in or out in a presidential election scheduled for March 26th.


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