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    RYBKIN'S RETURN NEWS AROUSES LAUGHTER AND IRRITATION

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    MOSCOW, February 10, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Larisa Sayenko) - The news of the return of Ivan Rybkin, a candidate for presidency, has aroused laughter with politicians and irritation in his own headquarters. During five days he was sought by his family, his campaign headquarters and secret services without success.

    "If it is a PR move, I see no sense in it," Kseniya Ponomaryova, chief of the candidate's campaign headquarters, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

    Ponomaryova has resigned office, the Ekho Moskvy radio station reported.

    The reappeared candidate explained that during the 5 days when his name was in the news he had a good rest in Kiev.

    "Why are you asking me, a political analyst? I do not know exactly what a specialist must be addressed in the case when a candidate for presidency goes to Ukraine without letting both his wife and his campaign headquarters know about it," Boris Makarenko at Centre of Political Technologies commented on the situation.

    "I do not know how come that a presidential candidate got lost. This gives us food for thought," Maksim Dianov, head of the Institute of Regional Problems, laughed.

    Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Politika fund is sure that the incident was designed by Boris Berezovsky.

    However, the very disgraced oligarch, who sponsors Rybkin's campaign, refuted in an interview with Ekho Moskvy from London, "If it is a political trick, it will bury Rybkin's political career".

    "As a matter of fact, I treated Ivan Petrovich well before this incident," co-chairman of the Republican party Vladimir Lysenko said choking back laughter. "But it seems to me that the election campaign of this kind derogates from his reputation," he added.

    Valery Bogomolov, Secretary United Russia's General Council, described the incident of Ivan Rybkin's disappearance and miraculous reappearance as "clownish". "The question is how many clowns perform in this circus. How can they increase tension in society, when the country is already shocked with the terror act in Moscow's underground?"

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