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    RESTRICTIONS ON REGIONAL AUTONOMIES ADMITTED LEGAL

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    MOSCOW, March 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that part 3 or article 5 of the law "On National Cultural Autonomy" is not out of line with the Constitution. Thus, the court confirmed that only one regional national cultural autonomy may be formed in a constituent member of the Russian Federation.

    The process was initiated on the complaint by Alexander Ditts and Olga Schumacher, whom the Justice Department of the Altai Territory denied registration of the national cultural autonomy of Russian Germans of Altai (Southern Siberia) "Revival".

    The applicants appealed this decision in court, but Barnaul's (Altai) Central District Court did not satisfy their complaint, saying that one regional German autonomy had already existed in the Altai Territory. Then the applicants turned to the Constitutional Court. They thought the appealed provisions violate the citizens' constitutional right to unification and run counter to the constitutional provision on the equality of all public associations before the law.

    The Constitutional Court disagreed with these conclusions. In the court's opinion, the formation of only one regional national cultural autonomy "does not hinder the activity of other local national cultural autonomies not making part of it, nor does it hinder the creation or activity of other associations of Russian citizens' who refer themselves to the same ethnic community that contribute to the preservation of originality, promotion of the language, education, and national culture." Constitutional Court judge Boris Ebzeyev explained to journalists that regional national cultural autonomies have a right to tax privileges, state financial aid, own television channels etc. "A restriction on the number of autonomies, stipulated by the law, is aimed to protect ethnic communities," Mr. Ebzeyev said. "Both Germans and other minority ethnic groups have the right to create national cultural autonomies on the local level," the judge said.

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