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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Considers Fate Of Limonov's Group

MTLimonov, center, talking with his supporters before Wednesday's hearing.
The fate of the unregistered National Bolshevik Party hung in the balance Wednesday as the Moscow City Court began considering a request from city prosecutors to ban it and to classify it an extremist organization.

If Judge Alla Nazarova grants the prosecutors' request, the authorities could arrest anyone who takes part in the organization's activities.

The organization has made headlines by taking part in the Dissenters' Marches in Moscow and St. Petersburg as part of the The Other Russia, an opposition coalition that also includes Garry Kasparov's United Civil Front and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's Popular Democratic Union.

The National Bolshevik Party was created by writer Eduard Limonov. In court on Wednesday, however, Limonov distanced himself from the organization.

"I am a famous writer and ideologist," Limonov told the court. "But I cannot be the head of an organization that does not exist."

In 2005, the Supreme Court annulled the organization's registration, leaving it in legal limbo.

Limonov maintained that he now attends events as an individual and insisted he is no more than a symbol of the group. Prosecutors sought to establish Limonov's leadership. They noted that he had been warned by prosecutors in St. Petersburg, Chelyabinsk and the Moscow region that members of the organization were involved in extremist activities.

Participation in an extremist organization is punishable by a fine of 200,000 rubles ($7,800) or two years in prison.

To back up their case, prosecutors presented newspaper articles in which Limonov is identified as the head of the group and played news footage of the Dissenters' March last December, in which Kasyanov introduces Limonov as its leader.

Some 30 journalists and Limonov supporters attended the hearing.

As prosecutors made their case, Limonov, dressed in a black velvet jacket, stroked his white beard and whispered to his lawyer.

Speaking to reporters during an afternoon recess, Limonov said that should prosecutors win the case, it "would open a flood of criminal investigations into anyone linked -- or thought to be linked -- to National Bolshevism. But National Bolshevism will not die," Limonov said.

The hearing resumes on Thursday.

n The State Duma passed a series of amendments to the law on extremism in a third and final reading Wednesday.

The bill introduces fines of up to 2,500 rubles ($95) for individuals and 100,000 rubles ($3,900) for companies that make, sell or purchase Nazi paraphernalia.

Staff Writer Nabi Abdullaev contributed to this report.