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Russia high court orders shutdown of liberal opposition party

[JURIST] The Russian Supreme Court [official website, in Russian] ruled Friday that the Republican Party [party website, in Russian] one of Russia's oldest opposition parties, was too small to be considered a political party under a 2004 Russian law and should be closed down. Republican Party co-Chairman Vladimir Ryzhkov [personal website, in Russian] argued that the party was actually larger than the court believed, that it had 58,000 members as opposed to only 50,000 as said in the court decision. Ryzhkov said the Russian Federal Registration Service [official website, in Russian], which filed the lawsuit challenging the Republican Party's legitimacy, used an inaccurate counting system in determining the party's membership because it excluded people who could not be reached by telephone. Ryzhkov further said the decision was an attack orchestrated by the party's opposition and an example of the systematic persecution the party had encountered across the country. Ryzhkov said the party will appeal the decision to the Collegium of the Supreme Court, and, if unsuccessful, then to the European Court of Human Rights [official website] in Strasbourg.

Also today, prosecutors asked the Moscow Municipal Court to ban the far-right National Bolshevik Party [official website] and suspend the party's activities pending a ruling. The party's leaders said the decision was politically motivated. Radio Free Europe has more. Interfax has local coverage.

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