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Rybkin Withdraws From Russian Presidential Race --> Moscow, 5 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Russian presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin announced today he is quitting the presidential campaign.

Rybkin told a news conference in Moscow that he no longer wants to participate in what he termed "a farce."

Rybkin made the comments after returning from a trip abroad. He cited security reasons for that trip, prior to which he had disappeared for several days.

Rybkin repeated his claims that he was the victim of politically motivated persecution, citing his fierce criticism of President Vladimir Putin as the reason.

Rybkin was one of six candidates competing with Putin for 14 March presidential elections. His campaign was backed by self-exiled businessman Boris Berezovskii.