[JURIST] The Russian Supreme Court [official website, in Russian] ruled Wednesday that the Russian Peace Party was too small to be considered a legitimate political party under a 2004 law and should be shut down. According to the Federal Registration Service [official website], Peace Party membership had fallen below a legal minimum that went into effect on January 1, meaning that it must either re-register as a different organization or cease operations. RIA-Novosti reported that the Peace Party had around 45,000 members and 35 regional branches.
Last week, the Russian high court ordered [JURIST report] the Republican Party [party website, in Russian] to be shut down for being too small under the same law. Republican Party co-Chairman Vladimir Ryzhkov [personal website, in Russian] said the decision was an attack orchestrated by the party's opposition and an example of the systematic persecution the party had encountered across the country. Ryzhkov said the party will appeal the decision to the Collegium of the Supreme Court, and, if unsuccessful, then to the European Court of Human Rights [official website] in Strasbourg. Last week, prosecutors asked the Moscow Municipal Court to ban the far-right National Bolshevik Party [official website] and suspend the party's activities pending a ruling. Critics say the membership minimums are intended to force opposition parties out of existence and thus consolidate President Vladimir Putin's grip on power. Russia holds parliamentary elections in December and a presidential vote next March. AP has more.