Russia's WTO membership faces hurdles: report
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual question-and-answer session with Russian people in Moscow, December 16, 2010. REUTERS

The Russian Ministry of Justice refused to allow a new opposition party to enter upcoming elections. The Kremlin said that The People's Freedom Party, also known as PARNAS, made a number of violations on its applications and failed to meet certain legal requirements.

The party's documents contain data about members of the public who died before the party's founding convention on December 13, 2010, the Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

But the denied application raises questions about the fairness of Russia's government, and again makes it seem that Putin is assuring his power by sheer might. By denying the new parties, Putin's government is whittling down the number of contenders in December's parliamentary elections. In the past four years, nine opposition parties have been voted down in such a way.

It was quite a predictable decision, Ilya Yashin, leader of the party's Moscow branch, told The Moscow Times.

Although new, PARNAS is rich with political expertise. Among its founding members are former Ministers Mikhail Kasyanov, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov and ex-Duma member Vladimir Ryzhkov.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton condemned the Ministry for its actions, saying we are troubled by reports of pressure from authorities in the regions designed to intimidate PARNAS supporters, prompting them to resign positions or disavow their signatures on required lists.