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Russian Opposition Party Denied Registration


Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov with ally Vladimir Ryzhkov (left to right) at a rally in Moscow in April
Russia's Justice Ministry said today the new opposition party established by Russia's leading opposition figures would not be registered, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The ministry's press service informed journalists that the decision not to register the People's Freedom Party (known as PARNAS) was made due to "the inconsistency in the party's charter and other documents filed for the official registration."

PARNAS was founded in December by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Milov, and Vladimir Ryzhkov.

The PARNAS leadership says the party has 53 regional branches and 46,000 members.

Nemtsov told RFE/RL today that the decision not to register the party was politically motivated.

Meanwhile, Kasyanov said the authorities were not interested in having a new opposition party appear on the scene on the eve of the presidential election, which is scheduled for next year.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was "disappointed" by the Russian Justice Ministry's refusal to register PARNAS.

Clinton said in a statement that the action effectively barred PARNAS from participating in Russia's upcoming Duma elections.

A spokesperson for European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed concern at the decision to deny the party registration.

"The difficulties faced by political parties in registering for elections effectively constrain political competition in Russia, reduce the choice available to its electorate, and show that there are real obstacles to political pluralism in the country," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"Political pluralism is a cornerstone of democracy and modern society, and a source of political legitimacy."

Moscow-based Russian political observer Andrei Piontkovsky told RFE/RL the Justice Ministry's decision was "much expected."

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