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Court upholds registration ban against National Bolshevik party

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MOSCOW, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow court Thursday upheld a decision to deny official registration to the outspoken National Bolshevik party.

Defense lawyer Vitaly Varivoda said the party, which was denied registration by the Justice Ministry January 30, would appeal the Tagansky Court's ruling, including at Moscow City Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

The National Bolsheviks claim a total of about 15,000 members. Outspoken critics of the present government, they have repeatedly been denied official registration as a political party.

Controversial novelist Eduard Limonov, who heads the party, said Thursday's ruling was predictable.

"We expected this turn of events and it was no surprise. We are pinning our hopes on the court in Strasbourg," said Limonov, who served half of a four-year jail term on arms offences before being released last year.

Party spokesman Alexander Averin said the ministry's January decision was the fifth denial since 1998, and was due to the party's program on protecting ethnic Russians abroad.

A Federal Registration Service source said the party had failed to achieve a quorum at its constitutive assembly, and that its regional groupings included people aged under 18, which is illegal. The source said the party discriminated on the basis of ethnicity, which was also illegal.

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