The Supreme Court of Russia ordered the liquidation of the People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS) as requested by the country’s justice ministry, according to Russian state news agency TASS. The Russian Ministry of Justice argued that the number of PARNAS’ regional offices dropped by 7, from 47 to 40, and law requires parties to have representative offices in half of the regions of the Russian Federation.
According to Mediazona, who were also in the courtroom, members of PARNAS said that were still 44 offices and that the court considered Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, where there are no “fully-fledged executive bodies,” when assessing the minimum number of representative offices. Therefore, PARNAS argued, the court had to set 43 offices as a minimum.
PARNAS became a registered opposition republican party in August 2012 and was led by Boris Nemtsov, who was killed in 2015, and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The party is critical of Putin’s regime and aims to “restore democracy and respect for the Russian Constitution.” PARNAS is also a member of the Alliance of Liberals for Europe and has joined coalitions with other democratic parties in Russia. Furthermore, PARNAS’ past activists Vladimir Kara-Murza and Ilya Yashin are in jail for their opposition to Russia’s attacks in Ukraine.
This order of liquidation is similar to the Supreme Court’s 2007 order dissolving the Russian Republican Party (RPR). The court said the RPR did not fulfill legal requirements concerning membership numbers and representative offices. The Russian State Duma Legislation made it harder for political parties to be registered in 2007, which led to the liquidation of 16 out of 33 parties.
The European Court of Human Rights received a complaint from the RPR detailing issues regarding the Russian Supreme Court and Federal Registration Service preventing parties from functioning and undermining democracy and free speech. In 2011, the court ruled in RPR’s favor and held Russia violated the party’s rights to freedom of assembly and association.