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Ryzhkov's Party Is Ordered to Disband

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that Vladimir Ryzhkov's Republican Party be disbanded for failing to adhere to a law that requires parties to have at least 50,000 members and 45 regional offices.

Ryzhkov, an independent deputy in the State Duma, accused the court of blindly listening to the Federal Registration Service's arguments and promised to appeal to the presidium of the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

"The court decided to believe the Federal Registration Service rather than properly explore the presented evidence," Ryzhkov told reporters after the verdict.

Ryzhkov and his lawyers presented five cartloads of documents Thursday, the first day of the two-day hearing, in an effort to convince Judge Yury Tolcheyev that the party complied with the 2004 law on parties.

Lawyers for the Federal Registration Service, however, said Thursday that a check of the party had found that it had only 39,500 members and 33 branches with the required 500 or more members, Kommersant reported.

The registration service's representative in the court, Galina Fokina, expressed satisfaction with Friday's ruling.

But the leaders of fellow opposition parties spoke out in support of the Republican Party, which was founded in 1990 and recently absorbed the political wing of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees.

"I regret this decision," senior Yabloko official Sergei Ivanenko said, Interfax reported. "One of Russia's oldest democratic parties has fallen victim to the draconian law."

Ivanenko said Yabloko would encourage the party's members to join its ranks if the presidium of the Supreme Court rejects Ryzhkov's appeal.

Nikita Belykh, head of the Union of the Right Forces, or SPS, called the ruling "an example of the selective application of law."

Belykh said federal checks on several other parties had improperly found them in compliance with the law. He did not identify the parties. SPS has cooperated with the party in the past, allowing its members to run on the SPS party list in recent legislative elections in Perm.

The registration service has found 16 parties in noncompliance with the 2004 law, according to its web site. Prior to the Friday verdict, the Federal Registration Service had won lawsuits to liquidate five of the parties, including the Eurasian Union and the People's Republican Party.

(The Moscow Times 26.iii.07)

 
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