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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

National Bolsheviks Face a Media Ban

The Federal Registration Service has asked the federal media agency to stop the media from referring to the National Bolshevik Party by its name, arguing that the organization was never registered as a political party.

Media experts said a ban could not be enforced, and the National Bolshevik Party dismissed the directive as "hysteria." But several prominent journalists conceded that they would think twice about how they referred to the group.

Federal Registration Service head Sergei Movchan said in a July 11 memo to the Federal Press and Mass Media Agency that it should prevent media from using the term "National Bolshevik Party." The memo noted that the Federal Registration Service had never registered the group as a party.

The National Bolshevik Party was registered in the Moscow region as an inter-regional public organization in 1993, but the Moscow regional court revoked the registration in June 2005 and ordered the group disbanded.

Due to this ruling, the memo said, any mention of the National Bolshevik Party in the media is the "dissemination of information that does not correspond to reality." The memo, posted on the Federal Press and Mass Media Agency's web site, does not specify how such dissemination should be stopped or punished.

Andrei Richter, director of Moscow's Media Law and Policy Institute, said no federal agency, including the Federal Registration Service and the Federal Press and Mass Media Agency, would be able to issue warnings to media organizations that used the term "National Bolshevik Party" or to shut them down if they persisted in doing so.

The law only allows an offended individual or legal entity to sue for a printed correction and for monetary compensation, Richter said Monday. Therefore, only the National Bolshevik Party itself could sue a media organization that referred to it as the National Bolshevik Party, he said.

Nevertheless, journalists polled by Vedomosti for Monday's issue said they would take note of the memo. Kommersant editor Vladislav Borodulin said the newspaper might start referring to the group as "a party banned by court," while Alexei Volin, the president of the Rodionov Publishing House, said his publications, which include Profil magazine, might use "self-styled" before the group's name. Channel One television anchor Mikhail Leontyev said he might opt for the word "so-called." NTV television anchor Vladimir Solovyov said he had no plans to stop referring to the group by its full name.

Describing the memo as "hysteria," the National Bolshevik Party said in a statement Friday that it "exists regardless of the wishes voiced in the statements of officials."

The organization and its leader, Eduard Limonov, have faced increasing pressure from authorities. The group is mostly known for its nonviolent, anti-Kremlin escapades, such as brief seizures of government offices and the egging of officials.