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Registration of Russian Political Parties Completed

Oligarch Boris Berezovsky becomes an Alexander Veshnyakov's enemy

On October 4th the Central Electoral Committee completed accepting the lists of candidates from political parties running for parliamentary elections. The following parties and groups have been allowed to run for the State Duma: "For Holy Russia," the People's and Republican Party, the SLON Party, the Soyuz Party, National-Patriotic Forces of the Russian Federation, the Conservative Party, the Constitutional and Democratic Party and several others. Thirty-seven parties have been approved in total, 12 of them have established five blocs and five more parties decided not to form any party lists but to nominate their candidates for single mandate regions.

However, the registration process has not been immaculate. A very surprising thing has happened to the Islamic Party of Russia, which became Russia's True Patriots party. It is a very strange thing indeed because the new title of the party means that Islamites are the true patriots of Russia.

Successful registration does not imply forthcoming success to any party - some of them will have to be on guard during the entire campaign. Alexander Veshnyakov, chairman of the Central Electoral Committee said, the approved list of parties could be changed further on. "Twenty-six parties and blocs will be the maximum on ballot papers. We will find out the exact information about it during this month. It took some parties two weeks to make up federal lists of 25 people - how will they be able to collect 200,000 signatures in their support until October 22nd?" Veshnyakov said.

To ease the situation with possible conflicts on the threshold of elections, the Central Electoral Committee refused to approve Liberal Russia's list of candidates, chaired by Boris Berezovsky, Ivan Rybkin and Yuly Dubov. As it was explained, the party was already participating in the pre-election campaign as a part of the bloc "New Course - Automobile Russia." The Central Electoral Committee registered the bloc on September 15th 2003, the pre-election lists were approved too. Alexander Veshnyakov specified that the party did not have a right to run as an independent party if it was already a part of a bloc. In addition, spokeswoman for the committee Elena Dubrovina said, Boris Berezovsky's Liberal Russia did not have a registration certificate.

Liberal Russia suggested the Central Electoral Committee should question the registration of the Automobile Russia party chaired by Viktor Pokhmelkin. On September 17th, 47 regional organizations of the party Liberal Russia informed the committee that their delegates had not participated in the so-called congress, at which it was allegedly decided to form the election bloc "New Course - Automobile Russia." According to the law, a congress of a party can be considered as legitimate only if a delegation from not less than 45 federation units participates in it. It becomes obvious that the so-called congress of Liberal Russia did not have a right to make such decisions and include Liberal Russia in the election bloc New Course - Automobile Russia." In addition, they believe that Viktor Pokhmelkin's Liberal Russia is holding registration documents of Berezovsky's Liberal Russia. The Central Electoral Committee came to conclusion that there were no reasons to cancel the registration of the Automobile Russia - the committee did not approve Berezovsky's party list.

Veshnyakov said, it was the first incident during the current pre-election campaign when the Central Electoral Committee did not approve the pre-election list of a party. Speaking about Berezovsky's part of Liberal Russia, Alexander Veshnyakov said that "spokespeople for this organization or those who call themselves so" must deal with their party problems alone.

Now Alexander Veshnyakov has another enemy - Boris Berezovsky. The chairman of the Central Electoral Committee has recently offended  the National Bolshevik Party too, but Veshnyakov has not suffered much from their anger. Berezovsky's anger will be a lot more serious: he may use his most powerful weapon - money. It is hard to say, how much time it will take Berezovsky to calm down. The best thing for him to do would be to "repent" and to return to Russia. If Berezovsky wins Russian people over to his side, he will easily make it to the Duma and even to the president. Moreover, Alexander Veshnyakov has already invited Boris Berezovsky to Russia before.

Most likely, the oligarch will politely turn the invitation down this time. It is much better for him to learn the peculiarities of the English weather in London than to live in a Russian jail. 

The party Liberal Russia split into two last October. One of the groups was chaired by Boris Berezovsky and the one was - by Viktor Pokhmelkin. The two groups tried to exclude each other from the party, trying to defend their right to bear the title Liberal Russia. The split in the party happened after Boris Berezovsky gave an interview to editor-in-chief of the communist newspaper Zavtra. Sergey Yushenkov and Viktor Pokhmelkin put forward an initiative to exclude their leader from the party. Berezovsky was excluded and Pokhmelkin's group became the exclusive owner of party's documents and stamps.

Berezovsky's followers gathered in St.Petersburg and reinstated the oligarch in the party. In June of the current year, participants of Liberal Russia's special congress elected Boris Berezovsky their leader. In September of the current year, Berezovsky's former associate Viktor Pokhmelkin decided to correct the mistake connected with the existence of two parties under one name. It was eventually decided that it was not reasonable to run under the name Liberal Russia because Boris Berezovsky and his followers believed that they had all rights to own the name. Boris Berezovsky's adversaries decided to establish a pre-election bloc of democratic organizations called "New Course – Automobile Russia."

Igor Kulagin

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