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Russian president signs party reform law

05 april 2012, 11:53
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. ©RIA NOVOSTI
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. ©RIA NOVOSTI
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday signed a law that is meant to ease registration of political parties, but some opposition groups have dismissed it as window dressing, AFP reports.

"The federal law is meant to liberalise requirements for the creation and working of political parties," said a memo regarding the new law, which was posted on the Kremlin website after Medvedev signed it.

Under new rules, 500 people can register a party, down from 40,000 previously. Authorities will also check the parties' documents only once every three years, rather than annually.

The law will go into effect Wednesday when it is published by the state media, Medvedev said while meeting with unregistered party leaders in the Kremlin. He called the new law a sign that Russia is taking a "normal, modern path" to democracy.

After last December's fraud-tainted parliamentary elections, the Russian government faced unprecedented public outrage over the current electoral system, which the opposition views as neither fair nor representative.

Medvedev promised political reform after tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Moscow, first by making it easier to create political parties, then by bringing back elections for regional governors.

Some 45 leaders of unofficial political movements came to the meeting, according to the list of participants, with the notable absence of several better known opposition groups, who dismissed the reform as insignificant.

"In reality there has been no step (towards political reform): the executive power has all the instruments to limit people's rights to unite into a political party," said the Parnas movement on its website, refusing to attend the meeting.

Parnas has argued that the new law preserves all of the loopholes that have previously been used as grounds to deny them registration.

"It's good that I didn't go to the meeting with Medvedev. A completely formalised, decorative event," Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of the Left Front movement and a key protest organiser, said on his Twitter blog Tuesday.

Attendees included heads of such groups as "The Kind People of Russia", "Subtropical Russia", and "Russian Pirate Party", the Kremlin said.

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