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Would-Be Kazakh Presidential Candidate Says He Has 'No Chance'

Mels Eleusizov: 'I'm running but I stand no chance of winning.'
Mels Eleusizov: 'I'm running but I stand no chance of winning.'
ALMATY -- The leader of a Kazakh environmental group says he will run for president even though he has "no chance" of winning, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Mels Eleusizov, the head of the Nature Environmental Union, made his announcement today at the National Press Club in Almaty.

Eleusizov criticized those opposition parties that have called for a boycott of the early election on April 3. He said "real politicians should respect democratic procedures."

The opposition Azat Social Democratic Party announced on February 12 that it intends to boycott the presidential poll. Azat's co-chairman, Bulat Abilov, told journalists there is not enough time before April to conduct an effective campaign.

Eleusizov is the second potential presidential candidate to say publicly he does not stand a chance of winning.

On February 9, Musaghali Duambekov, the leader of the For a Green Planet movement, told journalists he is running even though he does not expect to win. He added that he fully supports Nazarbaev and his policies.

Nazarbaev, who is 70 and has ruled Kazakhstan since before it gained independence in 1991, issued a decree earlier this month on early elections after unexpectedly rejecting a plan to hold a referendum on extending his term through 2020.

The constitution has been changed to permit Nazarbaev to run for an unlimited number of presidential terms.

Eleusizov took part in the last presidential elections in 2005, but he received little support and was branded by some as a "puppet candidate" used by Nazarbaev to make the poll appear to be competitive and democratic.

Eleusizov will have to pass a Kazakh language test before being allowed to be registered as a candidate. Duambekov passed the language test last week along with Nazarbaev; one opposition candidate was ruled to have failed the test and was not registered as a candidate.

Read more in Kazakh here