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.