Multiparty democracy continues to be a tad elusive in modern Russia, at least according to opposition leaders who had their application to register a new political party turned down by the Justice Ministry today, effectively banning them from participating in coming elections, reports the AP. The Justice Ministry provided several procedural explanations for denying the registration—from having an improper charter to submitting signatures from dead people—but opposition leaders say the move was just about maintaining political control.
The decision on whether to register the People's Freedom Party was seen as a test of President Dmitry Medvedev's pledges to increase political competition in Russia; opposition parties were squeezed out of politics under predecessor Vladimir Putin. "Nothing that has been said or promised by Medvedev during these past three years has materialized," says one of the opposition leaders. "It has only gotten worse: that is more pressure on political opponents, even more falsification in regional elections." (Read more Russia stories.)