Russia's top court has upheld a ban on a nationalist party taking part in Moscow city elections over a campaign ad that judges said incited racism.
The 30-second television clip by the Rodina (Motherland) party showed a blonde woman walking in Moscow surrounded by people who resembled dark-skinned immigrants from Russia's south or nearby ex-Soviet republics.
It ended with the slogan: "Let's clean the city of rubbish."
The Moscow city court, whose ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court, had ordered Rodina to be struck off the ballot for Sunday's election after a complaint from a rival nationalist party, the LDPR.
"The Supreme Court's decision clearly shows that the authorities are not ready to withstand real opposition or hold civilised dialogue with it," Rodina said in a statement calling on voters to spoil their ballots.
"They have shown us the methods they use to fight us. We will join the battle. The fight is only just beginning."
Critics said the clip was a symptom of growing prejudice in Russia towards ethnic minorities that has also seen a series of violent attacks on immigrants. However, no mainstream party had used the race issue so explicitly before.
"For such a clip they needed not just to be barred from the elections, but prosecuted and sent to prison. We think this campaigning was aimed not only at southerners but at the whole Russian state," Leonid Gozman of the liberal Union of Right-wing Forces (SPS) party, told Interfax news agency.
the third biggest party in Russia's parliament, and opinion polls
had suggested it would take second place in the election.