MOSCOW, September 28 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin on September 27 spoke at an international conference on the role of political parties in a democratic society. He said that the creation of parties based on the ethnic or regional principle can cause a split in the society or even a civil war, and for a country with nuclear weapons this is fraught with serious consequences.
The Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily notes that according to Mr. Zorkin, not only representatives of the parliamentary parties, but also other politicians, for example, co-chair of the RPR-PARNAS (Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party) Vladimir Ryzhkov, were invited to take part in the conference. But he refused, referring to his busy schedule of participation in the election campaign. RPR acronym is well familiar to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to which the Republican Party members turned after it was denied registration due to the insufficient number of members (then the RF Ministry of Justice required for registration 50 thousand members). ECHR judge Luis Guerra explained that ruling in favour of the Republicans the Strasbourg court found that the membership strength criterion is not necessary in a democratic society.
The Kommersant daily writes that Zorkin explained the ban on national and religious parties, that was criticised by the Venice Commission, by the “principle of a democratic secular state” on the one hand, and by “the concrete historical realities of multiethnic and multi-religious Russia,” on the other. “Given the ongoing tensions in interethnic and interfaith relations, the intensifying activity of religious fundamentalism and growth of xenophobia sentiments, the introduction of differentiation on the ethnic and religious principle into the sphere of the political struggle for power, is fraught with a split in the society,” Zorkin warned. The ban of parties, representing a “geographical region,” he said, is based on “such constitutional value as the unity of the country, rights and liberties of man and citizen.” “We all remember the tragic consequences of the parade of sovereignties,” he explained. “We have seen attempts of regional elites to push the state towards ... factual confederation.” In such conditions the institute of regional parties “could trigger” regional ethnic conflicts and “even a civil war,” Valery Zorkin warned.