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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russian presidential hopeful Ivan Rybkin, who reemerged in Moscow Tuesday after a puzzling five-day absence, claims that he is being shadowed.

    "I've been shadowed by several people for two years now. As I go to the airport, there's a person following me. As I meet and talk with people, he sits beside me without ceremony. I'm still undecided as to what my itinerary will be, but already this person buys a ticket... I'm tired and sick of this," he revealed in a live interview on Ekho Moskvy radio station Wednesday. But he stopped short of identifying his shadowers.

    Rybkin said he had been to Kiev for business, not for pleasure, and that he had met there with people he described as "opposition forces," with spin doctors and entrepreneurs among them. The presidential aspirant said he was sorry he had made his family and friends worry about him.

    Rybkin disappeared from Moscow on February 5 and police launched a search operation at his wife's request.

    Ekho Moskvy presenters said in a preview that Rybkin had agreed for the interview on condition that it would not be filmed or videotaped.

    Rybkin said he had been surprised to learn about his "alleged" disappearance in Ukrainian radio news bulletins, but that he had decided not to give any telephone calls. "I was taken aback [by the news] as I hadn't gone missing really, I thought. And I'd spent the night at a friend's place." Later on, special services (including the Interior Ministry, the Organized Crime Department, and the Federal Security Service) joined the search operation, arousing a "serious suspicion" in Rybkin's mind. He then reasoned that if someone sought to make the polls invalid, that person would try to hold him back using any possible means, even "physical liquidation." That conclusion made him feel alarmed and he decided to keep a low profile, he said.

    Rybkin explained his failure to get in touch with his election team by the mistrust he had recently come to feel towards some of his former associates.

    He assessed his own behavior as "adequate." "I'm not a schizophrenic; I've just received a firearms possession permit after passing the medical examination," he assured his audience.

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