Other Russia to Form Official Political Party

Eduard Limonov.  Source: Peoples.ruThe Other Russia opposition coalition has announced that it will be forming its own political party to participate in upcoming parliamentary elections, Kasparov.ru reports.

Aleksandr Averin, member of the executive committee of the coalition, said on Tuesday that a founding congress would be held for the party on July 10. There, participants will adopt a charter and party program, he said. The coalition is confident that enough members can be recruited in the months leading up to the October elections to reach the minimum necessary for the official federal registration required for parties that wish to participate in Russian elections.

Other Russia cofounder and head of the banned National Bolshevik Party, Eduard Limonov, will head the organizational committee, Averin added.

“We are going to demand the abolition of registration for political parties, and also participation in elections for all those who wish to,” Limonov said. He called the electoral campaign the Other Russia’s “second front,” the first being the “Strategy 31” rallies, held routinely in defense of the constitutional right to free assembly.

Limonov added that he expects the government to do everything possible to keep the opposition party out of the October elections.

A variety of Russian opposition groups have recently begun making renewed attempts to create officially registered political parties. The opposition movement Solidarity, lead in part by former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, announced in May that it would be creating its own party to operate side-by-side with the movement. The groups Democratic Choice and the National Patriots have also made similar decisions in the past few months.

The requirement for the federal registration of political parties is widely criticized by Russian opposition groups as a tool used by the government to keep political competition out of the electoral system. Altogether seven parties are officially registered and allowed to participate in elections: the Kremlin-backed United Russia party, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, Patriots of Russia, Yabloko, A Just Russia, and Right Cause. This is down from 15 parties in 2008, 19 in 2006, and 35 earlier in 2006. The number decreased following changes in federal registration procedures over the course of those years.

While some opposition parties, such as three Bolshevik-related parties, are banned outright in Russia, many are simply never able to register. Andrei Savelyov, leader of the unregistered Great Russia, told the newspaper Kommersant that his own party has no such chance. That said, he hopes that “the government will come to its senses and allow citizens to exercise political freedoms.”

Vladimir Ryzhkov, representative of the unregistered Republican Party, expressed similar doubts. “Our government, and most of all the president and prime minister, grossly trample on the constitution and deprive a significant part of the political forces and society of the opportunity to participate in elections,” he told Kommersant. “In these conditions, it is the task of the opposition to explain to the population that this is not an election, but a farce.”

Dmitri Badovsky, Deputy Director of the Institute of Social Systems, agreed that it was unlikely that unregistered parties would have any success in either the registration process or, theoretically, the actual elections. “For the survival of the political arena, the Kremlin will enable a sharp activation of the small parties that are already registered, most of all Right Cause,” he explained.