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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Justice Ministry Bars Spas From Duma Race

After a month of controversy, ultranationalist political movement Spas has been ruled ineligible to participate in next month's State Duma elections.

When the Central Election Commission registered Spas last month - over vocal protests from the media and from several politicians - the Justice Ministry filed a lawsuit to have the controversial party disqualified. On Wednesday, a Moscow court ruled in the Justice Ministry's favor, barring Spas from the Dec. 19 poll for procedural violations. The decision upholds a decision made by a Moscow district court earlier this month.

Spas leader Alexander Barkasho, also heads the Russian National Unity movement, which openly uses Nazi-like symbols and salutes, professes anti-Semitism and advocates a dictatorial state dominated by ethnic Russians.

In addition to Barkashov, the Spas federal party list includes Semyon Tokmakov, who gained notoriety when he beat up a U.S. Marine at Moscow's Gorbushka market in May 1998.

In April, a Moscow city court banned the RNE's local branch on the grounds it had recruited minors, passed out a neo-Nazi newspaper and organized unauthorized rallies.

The Justice Ministry also refused to register the RNE for the Duma race. Barkashov got around the ban by having his party, together with several smaller groups, form the electoral alliance Spas.

The Justice Ministry accused Spas of forging documents it submitted last year to register as a political movement.

According to the ministry, the movement did not have as many regional branches as it claimed. Electoral law requires that political parties and movements have representation in at least half of Russia's 89 regions to qualify to run in elections.

Having won the court case, the Justice Ministry will cancel Spas' registration as a political movement within three days, thus requiring the election commission to strike the party from the ballot, Itar-Tass reported.

Igor Yermakov, a spokesman for the election commission, said that Spas should be formally removed from the Duma ballot by the end of this week. When Spas was registered last month, CEC Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov told reporters that the decision was distasteful for him but that the party had fulfilled the necessary requirements.