Russian Supreme Court Bans Liberal Opposition to Putin

I don’t normally write much about political problems in other countries as we have had plenty of challenges to democracy right here at home, even though other countries such as Venezuela are facing even more serious threats to their liberty. Democracy in Russia has been gradually eroding. While experts on the country might be able to point to more important moments, I suspect that this might wind up to be one of the more significant. The Russian Supreme Court has disqualified the leading opposition party, effectively ending opposition to Putin in parliament. The Guardian reports:

Russia’s next parliament is likely to have no genuine opposition after a court in Moscow yesterday banned a leading liberal party from standing in elections.

Russia’s supreme court announced that it had liquidated the small Republican party, claiming that it had violated electoral law by having too few members. The party is one of very few left in Russia that criticises President Vladimir Putin.

The move against Russia’s opposition came as pro-democracy activists prepared for the latest in a series of anti-government rallies that have infuriated Russia’s hardline authorities.

This appears to be part of a disappointing trend:

On Thursday Moscow’s prosecutor’s office also suspended the Nationalist Bolshevik party, another radical and previously banned anti-Kremlin group. The National Bolshevik party is a radical activist group that has been a driving force behind recent anti-government protests, as the country prepares for parliamentary elections in December and next year’s presidential vote.

Vladimir Ryzhkov, the leader of the Republican party, said yesterday that the ban was part of a Kremlin-inspired campaign to crack down on dissent. “This is part of the Kremlin’s policy of suppressing the opposition. It’s being done to prevent opposition parties from taking part in elections,” he told the Guardian. “This is the fate any opposition party in Russia.”

Mr Ryzhkov – one of a handful of independent MPs in the Duma, the lower chamber of parliament, and a leading Putin critic – said his party would appeal in Russia and to the European court of human rights.

Without meaningful opposition in parliament, and without a tradition of liberal democracy, it would come as little surprise if Putin uses his rubber-stamp legislature to grant him more dictatorial powers.

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