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    FREE AIRTIME WILL BE GIVEN TO RYBKIN'S REPRESENTATIVE?

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    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti correspondent Larisa Sayenko) - Russia's Central Election Commission is ready to give free airtime to presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin's representative unless Rybkin is found before the start of the presidential campaign scheduled for February 12, CEC Alexander Veshnyakov told the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station.

    Rybkin has been out of touch since Thursday evening; his election HQ says it has no information on the candidate's whereabouts.

    Election laws envisage access of a candidate's representative to airtime in exceptional cases.

    The Central Election Commission will be guided by the right of a candidate and his headquarters to inform the voters of his or her program, Veshnyakov said.

    However, the HQ of the missing candidate was negative about it. "I don't see anyone of us who could substitute for Ivan Rybkin. All the rest in our team are non-public politicians, and the debates will turn out a farce," HQ head Ksenia Ponomaryova said.

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