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Russian Justice Ministry Outlaws Boris Berezovsky

The ministry does not recognize Berezovsky-controlled Liberal Russia party

Russian public and political groups and associations, which have not been transformed into parties, lost their political status on July 14th. Yevgeny Sidorenko, Deputy Justice Minister said, the mentioned requirement was stipulated in the Federal Law "About Political Parties." "The public and political groups that have not managed to be transformed into political parties will become simply public associations," the official stated. Deputy justice minister said, the law about political parties, which came into effect on July 14th, 2001, set the transition period of two years. Previously registered public and political groups preserved their status during that period. Sidorenko said more than a hundred of such groups had been registered at the Russian Justice Ministry. In addition to this, the official said that public associations, which use the word "party", are supposed to exclude this word from their names. The Justice Ministry is to send adequate letters to 35 parties concerning this issue. 

Yevgeny Sidorenko also said Russian public association will have an opportunity to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Russia. The Justice Ministry will present the list of such associations to the Central Electoral Committee. "This will not happen at the next elections, though - only political parties will be able to participate in them, according to the law," the official said.

The Russian Justice Ministry cut the Gordian knot of legal problems for Liberal Russia party last Saturday. Liberal Russia is de jure the only party with this name (chaired by Viktor Pokhmelkin), but de facto, there are two parties - the one mentioned above and Liberal Russia chaired by oligarch Boris Berezovsky.

After Mikhail Kodanev, co-chairman of Berezovsky's Liberal Russia party was arrested (investigators believe that he ordered the assassination of deputy Sergey Yushenkov), the oligarch's party members lost their courage. Boris Berezovsky improved the situation with the help of his old friend, Ivan Rybkin. Ten days ago the political council of Berezovsky-controlled part of Liberal Russia accepted Ivan Rybkin its member and leader. Having become Liberal Russia's leader, Rybkin started dealing with the party split problem. "I am going to negotiate this issue with Viktor Pokhmelkin and his followers in the nearest future," Ivan Rybkin said. He also added, 61 regional departments of Liberal Russia from 68 registered ones supported Boris Berezovsky, but Viktor Pokhmelkin still owned the party's registration documents. "There were incidents when such cases connected with registration documents were considered at Strasbourg-based human rights court, but I think that a trial is not necessary in this situation, so we will try to come to consent with Pokhmelkin," Ivan Rybkin said. It is also planned that Pokhmelkin, Rybkin and Berezovsky will create a "serious opposition bloc."

However, the Russian Justice Ministry does not recognize Berezovsky-controlled part of Liberal Russia. "We believe that all decisions of this part of the party are null and void, because they have violated the law and the charter of the party," Deputy Justice Minister Yevgeny Sidorenko said. The official added all documents from Berezovsky's followers had been studied at the Ministry: "At present, only one party is registered at the Justice Ministry - it is chaired by Viktor Pokhmelkin and Boris Zolotukhin," Sidorenko stated.