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Rybkin Considers Giving Up Presidential Candidacy

Moscow, 11 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Russian presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin -- who resurfaced yesterday after disappearing for five days -- says he is pondering whether to withdraw from the presidential race.

Rybkin returned to Moscow yesterday after reappearing alive and well in Kyiv. Neither his campaign manager nor his wife said they had been aware of his location since he disappeared on 5 February.

Rybkin today told Ekho Moskvy radio that he is taking "a weeklong time out" to decide whether or not to end his candidacy in the 14 March presidential poll.

The disappearance of Rybkin -- an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin -- caused a great deal of media speculation. But Rybkin today gave few details about his disappearance. He said, without ellaborating, that in Kyiv he felt what he called "a real threat" to his security.

But Moscow police today said they formally closed their investigation into Rybkin's disappearance after he told them he was not the victim of any crime.