A Russian court on Monday upheld a decision not to register a political party critical of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, making its participation in elections impossible.
The new opposition People's Freedom Party, or Parnas, was founded last year by a coalition of politicians including former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov and former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov.
|Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks as he chairs a conference of the coordinating board of his All-Russian People's Front movement on August 23, 2011 in Moscow|
The justice ministry denied its registration in late June, however, for reasons that the party declared "made-up and untrue," proceeding to contest the ministry's decision in court.
But the Zamoskvoretsky district court in Moscow upheld the ministry's decision on Monday, one of Parnas' coalition members, the People's Democratic Union, said on its website.
"This decision was expected. It's not a secret that courts are part of the power vertical," said Parnas' secretary Konstantin Merzlikin, referring to the highly centralised system of power developed by then-president Vladimir Putin.
"We'll go through the whole process. The next step is the Moscow city court," Merzlikin said in a statement.
By law, a party has to be officially registered in order to stand in elections, and the refusal would prevent Parnas from fielding candidates in parliamentary elections in December and crucial presidential polls in March.
Nemtsov in his blog on Monday called on people to ruin their ballots in both elections -- which he described as a "fraud and farce" -- by marking them with opposition slogans.
Russia's electoral system provided people with the option of voting "against all" candidates as a matter of protest until the popular practice was outlawed in 2006