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Russia: Yeltsin Has Legal Right To Run For Third Term In 2000

Moscow, 18 May 1998 (RFE/RL) - A Kremlin spokesman said today that President Boris Yeltsin had the legal right to run for a third term in office in elections due in 2000. Sergei Yastrzhembsky, answering a question from Ekho Moskvy radio station, said Yeltsin was entitled to run for a third term in the Kremlin. But he said that was his "personal opinion" and would not confirm whether Yeltsin would stand again.

Under the constitution, Russian presidents are barred from holding three successive terms. But Yeltsin's first term started in 1991 in the last months of the Soviet Union, two years before the current constitution was adopted. The Constitutional Court is to rule before the end of the year on whether he can run in 2000. Yastrzhembsky's comments coincided with the victory of Aleksandr Lebed, a potentially strong presidential candidate in 2000, in gubernatorial elections yesterday in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk.

On the START-II nuclear disarmament treaty, Yastrzhembsky said Yeltsin will urge prompt ratification at a meeting later this week with his prime minister and the speakers of both houses. Yastrzhembsky said that "it is not the president who needs START-II ratification, it's Russia which needs it." Yeltsin's next summit with U.S. President Bill Clinton hinges on the START-II ratification but the State Duma has so far dragged its feet.