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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rodina, Barred From Vote, Slams Kremlin

The Supreme Court late Friday upheld a lower court's decision to bar Rodina from the City Duma elections, a ruling that the nationalist party denounced as politically motivated and liberal opposition parties called a mistake.

Supreme Court spokesman Vyacheslav Shulenin said the count had rejected Rodina's appeal of the Moscow City Court ruling to strike the party off the ballot for a campaign commercial that likened dark-skinned migrants to garbage. Shulenin said the decision did not bar Rodina candidates from running in single-mandate districts.

The lawsuit against Rodina was initiated by the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and backed by the city elections committee.

Rodina leader Dmitry Rogozin lashed out at the Supreme Court's decision as "politically motivated" and accused the Kremlin of being behind it.

"The attempt to deprive Rodina voters of their right to have representatives in the City Duma is a rude violation of the constitutional rights of Russian citizens," he said, Interfax reported.

He said the ruling was a sign that the authorities were afraid of Rodina, which is widely seen as a Kremlin-created party that was set up to steal votes from the Communists in the 2003 State Duma elections. "A real political opposition was born today in Russia," Rogozin said.

He urged voters to mark the box next to Rodina's crossed-out name Sunday.

Boris Nadezhdin, deputy leader of the liberal Union of Right Forces, said Rodina's commercial was "terrible and incited xenophobia," but it was a mistake to bar Rodina from the ballot.

"This will not help fight against xenophobia, but just make Rodina more popular," Nadezhdin said.

Senior Yabloko official Alexei Melnikov called the court decision "ridiculous." "We are against that clip and what Rodina does, but it is ridiculous to bar it because of a case started by LDPR, a party very similar to Rodina," he said.

Opinion polls had suggested Rodina would take second place in the elections, after the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. Rodina had 44 people on its party list, which was headed by City Duma Deputy Yury Popov.

Striking Rodina off the ballot will not help fight growing prejudice toward ethnic minorities and migrants, said Vladimir Pribylovsky, the head of the Panorama think tank. "The authorities should have opened a criminal case against Rodina, and someone should have been held responsible for that commercial," he said. "They have lost the City Duma elections, but now they will become very popular," he said.