Great Russia Strikes Back! – UPDATE

I previously wrote about how the Federal Registration Service (FRS) denied the application of Dmitry Rogozin’s nationalist Great Russia party. Last week, the Russian press reported that Great Russia has now resubmitted its registration application, as it promised to do last month.

But even if Great Russia’s application is approved this time, it would not be permitted to participate in the upcoming Duma elections because of a technicality. Gazeta.ru reported that all parties must be registered as of September 1, when President Putin is expected to issue the order officially starting the 2007 Duma elections. The FRS, however, is unlikely to reach a decision on Great Russia’s second application by that time. Great Russia party leaders are hoping to get around this obstacle by having their application ‘grandfathered’ in, based on the date of their original application. Gazeta reported that, though the FRS has not commented on this interpretation of the regulations, it is unlikely to work.

I think the FRS will do what is necessary to prevent Great Russia from participating in the elections this fall. Ultimately, the party might have to go to the Constitutional Court to challenge the FRS’ decision. I stand by my earlier conclusion that the Russian authorities have overstepped in riding roughshod on Great Russia. In dealing with the party as though it is a threat and thus generating it free PR, the Russian government is only strengthening the party because its most likely supporters are those who have not bought into Putinism and in fact think that the current government has ‘capitulated’ to foreigners. Great Russia’s own figures support this – in the past two months since the registration fight began, their membership has grown by 4%. Furthermore, Great Russia is in prime position to steal supporters from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which is slowly developing into a political leper. Regardless of whether Great Russia officially participates in the upcoming elections, its influence will continue to grow.

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