The official birth of the Pirate Party of Russia
It was an emotional moment at the General Assembly of North Rhine-Westphalia this weekend on Saturday 30th of June: the German Pirates exchanged greetings and congratulations with the Russian Pirates in Moscow at their founding Assembly. After more than a year of struggle with the administrations, the Russian Pirates could finally start the procedure to become the official “Pirate Party of Russia”.
Why Pirate Party of Russia wasn’t registered (earlier)
Informally the Pirate Party of Russia exists since 2009 as a movement composed of a group of people that want to promote Pirate ideas. In more than 2 years the Pirates already managed to gather more than 5.000 preliminary membership applications, 100.000 supporters in social media and to be regularly represented in Russian media. In 2011 the group started the first attempts to be legally registered as a political party. However before the elections in December 2011 the situation for unregistered parties was very bad. At that moment, to be officially recognized as a political party that can participate in elections, you needed 45.000 members in the Russian Federation and be represented with at least 400 members in more than half of the 83 Russian regions. These very strict requirements together with the high financial burdens to create such structures in the biggest country in the world led to the fact that since 2006 no new parties were registered in Russia. In the December 2011 elections only 7 parties were recognized officially – in a country with 143 Million inhabitants!
Despite the enormous administrative burdens the Pirates in Russia tried to be recognized as a party to be able to participate in the elections in 2011. However the Ministry of Justice refused the registration stating that according to Russian laws, “piracy” is the illegal act of attacking another vessel on the sea and no political party can be registered with that name. This refusal to register cost Pirate Party of Russia the possibility to participate in the 2011 elections.
In a subsequent attempt to register the movement as a party, Russian Pirates send the registration documents to the Ministry of Justice with the names of the party being “No name Party” and “Pirrrrrrate Party” (Пираццкая Партия, Russian internet slang). The Ministry finally didn’t object anymore to the registration and the Pirate Party started to organize the regional offices to fulfill the necessary requirements However already during these preparations they asked supporters, journalists and members to still call the group “Pirate Party of Russia”, despite the official name under which they applied to be registered.
After the elections in December 2011 (that took place without the Pirate Party), the political situation in Russia changed. After several election frauds that lead to protests and massive demonstrations, the government had to react and decided to simplify the registration process for new parties. According to the new laws on political parties, you only need 500 members in whole of Russia to be able to register as a party. With the new laws enacted, Russian Pirates resubmitted their application to be registered as “Pirate Party of Russia” and this time the Ministry of Justice accepted it – giving the Pirates the chance to start the official registration process on June 30th 2012.
The founding Assembly in Moscow and the video call from Dortmund
On June 30th 2012, from 15.00 local time, to Juli 1st 2012, the Pirate Party finally started the registration process to become an official political party in Russia. Despite the simplification of the procedure, being recognized as a party is still a lot of work: you need to organize a national founding Assembly with representatives of all 83 regions, organize a regional office in at least half of the regions and announce the founding meetings in the official “Russian newspaper” (Российская Газета). Fortunately the Russian Pirates managed to get all representatives to Moscow and realized the first step in registering the party.
On June 30th and July 1st the Pirates elected a board and voted on the statutes and programme. Most of the motions were already prepared beforehand and published on the website of the party. The Pirate Party of Russia starts their statutes with the mention that they are a “party freely created without permission of the government and executive officers”, marking their independence from the current political forces at the government. The programme of the Russian Pirates comes with a twist; Alexander Delfinov, journalist and painter managed to put the positions of the Pirate Party of Russia into a poetic form – making it the first and only party programme poem in the world! The positions are well known to Pirates around the world; improve direct democracy, promote e-democracy and open government, enable the free sharing of information, protect the integrity and immunity of private live. Their political work is guided by a practical approach: citizens are not encouraged to violate the law, but the Party’s goal is to change the law. Russian Pirates proclaim to follow logics and common sense, looking for collaboration with other groups, movements and parties that follow similar principles and act on common goals. The person trying to manage all these goals and visions is Paul Rassudov: now officially elected first chairman of the Pirate Party of Russia!
The highlight of the founding meeting was the video call that connected Pirates in Moscow to the North Rhine-Westphalia Pirates in Dortmund, Germany. More than 500 Pirates in Dortmund saw and heard the voices of more than 100 members of the Pirate Party of Russia congratulate NRW Pirates on their recent election success – success that didn’t stay unnoticed even in Russian media. After the introduction by Lola Voronina, Pirate Parties International Co-Chairwoman and International Coordinator of Pirate Party Russia, with the support of Marina Weisband as translator, the leader of Pirate Party of Russia, Paul Rassudov and the leader of the new Pirate fraction in the Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, Joachim Paul, exchanged their good wishes and motivations. Reactions on both sides of the video call were amazing: where the German Pirates, knowing of the struggles of the Russian Pirate Party, were moved by the fact that finally the Party can be registered, Russian Pirates were simply overwhelmed by the mere number of Pirates in Dortmund, celebrating the founding of Pirate Party of Russia.
Pirates in Russia: first step done, still a long way to go
The official founding meeting of Pirate Party of Russia was on June 30th – not only the North Rhine-Westphalia Pirates recognized the historic scale of this event. But this is only the beginning: now the Russian Pirates have to create the regional offices and get all documents approved before becoming officially recognized. All this work has to be done in a political climate that changed after the December 2011 elections, but still is very tense. The leader of Pirate Party of Russia was arrested already a few times, there are still protests almost every two weeks, even journalists are arrested and rid of their media accreditations.
It is a relief that with all the troubles and worries Russian Pirate Party still retains a cool head and the necessary humor. Following the lead of their German counterparts, the Russian Pirates didn’t miss the chance to enjoy the simple joy of an episode of “My Little Pony” during the counting of the votes for the board elections. After copying the traditions of their colleagues, copying the success of German Pirate Party is the next step on the agenda of Russian Pirates!
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