Banned Nationalist Will Run in Duma Elections

Militant nationalist Alexander Barkashov said Tuesday that the government's refusal to register his Russian National Unity group won't keep him off the parliamentary ballot in December - thanks to a provision of the law that lets him join a coalition with two like-minded figures.

But his resulting Nationalist Bloc will have a tough time making the 5 percent barrier needed to win seats, analysts said.

Barkashov downplayed a Moscow court's decision Monday to ban the city chapter of Russian National Unity, or RNE, on the grounds it had recruited minors, passed out a neo-Nazi newspaper and organized unauthorized rallies.

The group has chapters registered in more than 30 other cities and regions "where they treat us much better than in Moscow," said Barkashov, who has clashed with the city's mayor, Yury Luzhkov, but enjoys official tolerance in several other cities.

The Justice Ministry's decision not to register RNE for parliamentary elections means it cannot field a party list and compete for the half of all Duma seats allocated using proportional representation.

But by joining with two small nationalist groups, Vozrozhdeniye and Spas, Barkashov does not need registration of his own in order to appear on a party list.

"We wouldn't let all sorts of adventurers, communo-democrats, conformists and swindlers take over top executive power in this country," Barkashov said. "We'll do what we think is right and when we think the time is right to do it. Right now our goal is the State Duma elections."

He vowed not to cut his trademark pigtail "until I get into the State Duma."

RNE advocates an authoritarian government based on domination by ethnic Russians. It describes its policies as national-socialist and uses symbols and salutes strongly reminiscent of German Nazis.

"We've always been on the cutting edge of the resistance and revival of Russian national dignity," said Vozrozhdeniye head Valery Skurlatov, who joined Barkashov at the news conference at the Center for Slavic Literature and Culture. "Without revolutionary, decisive actions we can't avoid a national catastrophe."

The bloc's leaders had a hard time naming strategic allies, but identified their chief opponents as Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and Luzhkov. The Moscow mayor has been a vocal critic of RNE.

"They will play the Orthodox card during the elections ... and try to fool the people," said Duma Deputy Vladimir Davidenko, head of the Spas group. "Communists and democrats will want to capitalize on the national self-awareness trend."

Davidenko said the group would get at least 20 percent in the December polls. But Vladimir Pribylovsky, a political analyst with the Panorama think tank, said the alliance faced a much tougher road.

"They won't come anywhere close to overcoming the 5 percent threshold," he said. "They won't withstand competition with the Communists."