Russian opposition party will contest bar from polls: leader

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A Russian opposition leader vowed Saturday to go to court over the authorities' refusal to register a party that has harshly criticised Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, barring it from upcoming polls.

Former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, a founder of a new opposition party called the People's Freedom Party, or Parnas, told a party conference in Moscow he would take the fight to the top of the justice system.

"Will we contest the refusal of registration? Yes, we will, since we consider that we are right. We will go through all the judicial authorities of the Russian Federation," Kasyanov said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

The justice ministry refused Wednesday to register the party founded by Kasyanov, former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov and several others, citing violations including listing dead people as members.

By law, a party has to be officially registered in order to stand in elections, and the refusal would prevent Parnas from fielding candidates in parliamentary elections in December and crucial presidential polls in March.

Kasyanov, an associate of the late Russian president Boris Yeltsin who joined the opposition cause after being fired by Putin in 2004, insisted the refusal was illegal, claiming the violations cited were not sufficient basis to deny registration.

"Even if the accusations against us were fair, in any case it is not possible to deny registration on such a basis."

Fellow leader Nemtsov had initially reacted by defiantly saying the founders would not bother appealing the decision because it was politically motivated.

"Going to court would mean being a loser. This decision is outside the realm of law," he had told the liberal Echo of Moscow radio station on Wednesday.

© 2011 AFP

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