Friday, August 10, 2012
’The Great Teddy Bear Pro-Democracy Escapade'
Following it, Belarus Pulls out of Sweden, Kicks out Swedish Diplomats
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
MINSK, BELARUS (ANS) -- Following what has been described as “The Great Teddy Bear Pro-Democracy Escapade,” over Belarus, the country has asked Sweden to pull its diplomats out of Minsk after it said it is withdrawing all of its embassy staff from Stockholm, a government statement said.
“The incident was a humiliation for President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and is on poor terms with the West because of his harsh policies towards the political opposition [and also Christians].
It added that the Swedish plane dropped the toy bears near the town of Ivenets and near the capital Minsk, each carrying a message urging the Belarussian leadership to show greater respect for human rights.
According to the Sofia-based www.novinite.com, Sweden has been advised to withdraw its embassy staff from Minsk by August 30, the statement added, as cited by RIA Novosti.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko fired a number of top officials over the teddy bear stunt.
Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has been accused by western governments of cracking down violently on dissent.
His re-election for a four term in 2010 was marred by allegations of vote-rigging.
Challenging Restrictions, Christian Church Dedicated In Belarus
Mission Network News (MNN) -- http://mnnonline.org-- reported in May of this year that despite lack of religious freedom in Belarus, a church building was dedicated in the last dictatorial nation in Eastern Europe.
It was also dedicated in honor of two men, father and son: Peter Deyneka, Sr. -- founder of Slavic Gospel Association, and Peter Deyneka, Jr. -- founder of Russian Ministries.
MMN says that President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba was there.
Peter Deyneka, Sr. moved to the United States from Belarus in 1914. He became a dynamic preacher of the Gospel after he came to Christ at Moody Church in Chicago.
The story went on to say, that while the Soviet Union is no more, Rakhuba says Belarus is not an easy place to be a Christian. He says this celebration was marred by interference. “When we finished our dedication service, police called the pastor and were asking all kinds of questions – ‘Who was there? Why did you do this? We did not [permit] you to do this’ -- although we didn't do anything wrong.”
Rakhuba continues, “If there's an evangelistic service [Christians] would like to hold in the community, nobody would have the permission to do it on public ground. You have to do it within your walls [of the church]. You cannot share your faith publicly. That's already a constitutional law there.”
Churches have a lot of restrictions, says Rakhuba. “They aren't allowed to visit orphanages. They are not allowed to do any social Christian service to help those who are in need,” he added.
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