Russia: The Baltic Republican Party in Kaliningrad; mandate, structure, membership and treatment of its members by the authorities; whether the party has ceased its operations and been renamed the Kaliningrad Public Movement-Respublika (2001-May 2005)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa|
|Publication Date||10 June 2005|
|Citation / Document Symbol||RUS100121.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Russia: The Baltic Republican Party in Kaliningrad; mandate, structure, membership and treatment of its members by the authorities; whether the party has ceased its operations and been renamed the Kaliningrad Public Movement-Respublika (2001-May 2005), 10 June 2005, RUS100121.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/440ed74f2f.html [accessed 21 December 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The Baltic Republican Party in Kaliningrad
The Baltic Republican Party (BRP) was founded in 1992 and as recently as February 2005 its leader was Sergei Pasko (Ren TV 2 May 2003; BNS News Agency 30 Oct. 2002; Gazeta.ru 22 Feb. 2005).
The BNS News Agency described the BRP as "a minor party representing mainly small and medium business" (8 Nov. 2001).
A number of media reports stated that the authorities shut down the BRP, although they differed in the date of the closure, variously reporting it as 27 October 2002 (BNS News Agency 30 Oct. 2002), February 2004 (ITAR-TASS 1 Feb. 2005) or February 2005 (Miami Herald 3 Apr. 2005; Kommersant 22 Feb. 2005). The BRP reportedly had between 500 and 600 members at the time it ceased operations (ibid.; BNS News Agency 30 Oct. 2002; ITAR-TASS 1 Feb. 2005).
The BRP contested court decisions based on the Russian law on political parties, which requires parties to have a minimum of 10,000 members and active branches in half of Russia's regions in order to be registered (ibid.). In February 2005, ruling on the complaint brought forward by the BRP, the Russian Constitutional Court confirmed the validity of the law on political parties (ibid.). According to the ruling, all parties that did not meet the minimum requirements would have to "self-disolve by January 1, 2006, or transform into public associations" (ibid.).
According to the Miami Herald, the BRP's main goal was to make Kaliningrad "a fully independent state" (3 Apr. 2005). BRP leader Sergei Pasko maintained that 100,000 people from Kaliningrad supported this idea (Ren TV 2 May 2003).
Other sources stated that the BRP's plans for Kaliningrad were more about "the acquisition of a special international legal status" (BNS News Agency 30 Oct. 2002), including the ability to negotiate its trade deals with the EU and to regulate its own commercial affairs (Wall Street Journal 27 Feb. 2003). The BRP also called for greater economic deregulation (ibid.). Sources added that the BRP leader suggested that immigration should be controlled by local authorities in Kaliningrad (South China Morning Post 4 Aug. 2002) and that dual citizenship (Russian and EU) should be granted to the inhabitants of Kaliningrad (Expert 17 June 2002).
The leader of the BRP told the Wall Street Journal in February 2003 that: "[Kaliningrad will] be a partly independent state in connection with the Russian Federation [...] But we hope to be a subject of the EU as well" (27 Feb. 2003). He had declared to the Boston Globe in October 2002 that "Kaliningrad should become an autonomous region within Russia, but which would bring its laws in line with EU standards" (6 Oct. 2002).
According to the BNS News Agency, the 6 November 2001 congress of the party did not support Sergei Pasko's idea of "a referendum on increasing the federal status of Kaliningrad Region" (8 Nov. 2001).
The Ekho Moskvy News Agency reported that the BRP had collected signatures from residents in favour of the city of Kaliningrad going back to its previous name of Koenigsberg (24 July 2002).
A 9 August 2001 article from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty indicated that some polls showed that support for the BRP was around 5 per cent, while the party leader "[said] the actual figure [was] closer to 50 per cent."
No information on the BRP membership cards or the treatment of its members by the authorities was found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
The Kaliningrad Public Movement-Respublika
Gazeta.ru reported that a "Respublika Kaliningrad Public Movement" was created in February 2005 by Sergei Pasko, chairman of the banned Baltic Republican Party and president of the Kaliningrad Entrepreneurs Union (22 Feb. 2005). The main goal of the movement is to obtain international status permitting "independent relations with the European Union, while retaining associate membership of the Russian Federation" (Gazeta.ru 22 Feb. 2005; see also RFE/RL 23 Feb. 2005 and Miami Herald 3 Apr. 2005). A deputy from the Oblast Duma, Vitautas Lopata, is described as a sponsor of the movement (ibid.) or co-chairman, according to the Kommersant (22 Feb. 2005). On 23 February 2005, RFE/RL stated that about 300 people took part in the movement's founding congress.
Sergei Pasko had declared to the Kommersant: "Respublika is not the BRP. There is interaction, but not more. We have shifted to the higher level – we are preparing a legal basis" (Kommersant 22 Feb. 2005).
According to the Kommersant, the new movement's flag is orange and contains the words "KOD Respublika" (Kaliningrad Public Movement Republic, in Russian) (22 Feb. 2005). The funding for this movement is said to come from "members of the regional Union of Entrepreneurs" (ibid.).
No other information on the Kaliningrad Public Movement-Respublika was found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
BNS News Agency [Kaliningrad, in Russian]. 30 October 2002. "Separatist Party in Russian Western Region Banned for 'Extremism'." (Dialog/BBC International Reports 30 Oct. 2002).
_____. 8 November 2001. "Party Congress Puts Russian Baltic Enclave Referendum Idea on Hold." (Dialog/BBC International Reports 8 Nov. 2001)
Boston Globe. 6 October 2002. David Filipoff. "Visa Issue Frustrating Kalingraders; Russian Enclave's Transit Problems Test for Economy." (Dialog)
The Christian Science Monitor. (Johnson's Russia List).
Ekho Moskvy News Agency [Moscow, in Russian]. 24 July 2002. "Russia: Regional Party Collects Signatures For Renaming Kaliningrad." (Dialog/BBC International Reports 24 July 2002).
Expert [Moscow]. 17 June 2002. Olga Vlasova. "The Hong Kong of Russia."
Gazeta.ru [Moscow, in Russian]. 21 February 2005. Marina Fikhte. "Kaliningrad Oblast's Orange Movement." (FBIS/WNC)
ITAR-TASS [Moscow, in Russian]. 1 February 2003. "Russia: Constitutional Court Confirms Law on Parties." (Dialog)
Kommersant [Moscow]. 22 February 2005. "Kaliningrad Flies an Orange Flag."
Miami Herald. 3 April 2005. Yuras Karmanau. "Russia: Baltic Enclave Resents Centralizing Policies." (Dialog)
Radio Free Europe/Radio Lberty (RFE/RL). 23 February 2005. Newsline. Vol. 9, No. 35, "Lobbying Group Set Up To Push For Change Of Kaliningrad's Status." http://www.rferl.org/newsline/2005/02/230205.asp> [Accessed 7 June 2005] Ren TV [Moscow, in Russian]. 2 May 2003. "Kremlin Bans Kaliningrad From Celebrating its Historical Prussian Name." (Dialog/BBC International Reports 3 May 2003) South China Morning Post. 4 August 2002. " 'Hong Kong on the Baltic' Craves Split From Russia." (Dialog) Wall Street Journal. 27 February 2003. Peter Savodnik. "Russian Enclave Wants Closer EU Ties." (Johnson's Russia List) Additional Sources Consulted Internet sites, including: Human Rights Watch, The Kaliningrad Oblast Administration, Pravda.ru, World News Connection.
_____. 9 August 2001. Francesca Mereu. "Russia: Kaliningrad's Isolation May Grow As Its Neighbors Join EU."
Ren TV [Moscow, in Russian]. 2 May 2003. "Kremlin Bans Kaliningrad From Celebrating its Historical Prussian Name." (Dialog/BBC International Reports 3 May 2003)
South China Morning Post. 4 August 2002. " 'Hong Kong on the Baltic' Craves Split From Russia." (Dialog)
Wall Street Journal. 27 February 2003. Peter Savodnik. "Russian Enclave Wants Closer EU Ties." (Johnson's Russia List)
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites, including: Human Rights Watch, The Kaliningrad Oblast Administration, Pravda.ru, World News Connection.