Russia Refuses to Recognize Pirate Party, Because of Its Name

The recognition of the Pirate Party in a US state might have been considered the last obstacle to overcome before widespread acceptance of the movement as a viable political force. Yet there might be another country more obstinate than the US when it comes to registering political parties, and that's Russia.

The Pirate Party, an international group of political parties looking at copyright, patent and trademark reform among other things, is well known to TorrentFreak readers. The name comes from the label given to them by the content industry, of which they seek to reform the meaning. There is also an older use though, which deals with crimes at sea. Confusing the two isn’t easy, or so you’d think.

The Russian Justice Ministry has turned down the Russian Pirate Party for registration because it says “piracy is an attack on sea of river craft, which is a criminal offense,” according to the Moscow Times. The Ministry also says that the name implies that members are all criminals serving prison sentences thus violating Federal law

While that accusation has been leveled before (by a UK member of the Commons, during the Digital Economy Bill debate), then it was only at Rick Falkvinge, then party chairman and now occasional TorrentFreak columnist, also the founder of the Pirate Party movement back in 2006.

Understandably, the Pirate Party is upset, and has filed a protest at Zamoskvoretsky court in Moscow. ”Refusal to register a ‘Pirate Party of Russia’ offends 15,000 of the party members whom the Russian Ministry of Justice has called criminals. We are going to appeal the Justice Ministry’s decision in court,” says party chairman Paul Rassudov.

Lola Voronina, the Chief Administrative officer of PPI, and also a PP-Ru member told TorrentFreak: “The government doesn’t want any new parties to be registered – there isn’t much time left until the elections. So they are trying to find some reasons like this to decline registration.” When asked about the prospects of the challenge, Voronina told us: “We don’t know. But we definitely need to try!”

“The Russian Ministry of Justice made a curious mistake,” she continues. “The name, ‘Pirate Party of Russia’ reflects an ideology accepted worldwide. We are not a party of pirates attacking sea or river vessels for the appropriation of other people’s property. Could they regard two European deputies from Sweden’s Pirate Party and many other pirate parties across the globe as criminals?”

Of course, democracy in Russia is contentious. Back in October, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warned of problems in Russia’s democracy, accusing Prime Minister Putin of attempts to stay in power. Meanwhile the Democracy Index has them at 107, almost in the “Authoritarian regime” grouping.

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