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Zhirinovsky Allowed in Russian Race

March 6, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ Ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose truculent statements and unrestrained antics have both appalled and attracted voters, on Monday won a Supreme Court order allowing him to register as a candidate in this month’s presidential election.

Zhirinovsky was among the first Russian politicians to announce presidential aspirations after Boris Yeltsin resigned Dec. 31. But the Central Election Commission rejected his candidacy last month, saying his financial declaration was invalid because it failed to include an apartment owned by his son.

Russian law requires candidates to declare their assets and those of their immediate family.

Zhirinovsky argued the omission was insignificant. The Supreme Court had earlier rejected Zhirinovsky’s argument, but the court’s Board of Appeal ruled Monday that banning Zhirinovsky was unlawful. It ordered the election commission to register him for the March 26 election, court spokeswoman Nelli Sokolova said.

Sokolova said the ruling judge in the case had not disclosed the reason for the reversal.

Election Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov said Zhirinovsky would be registered on Tuesday, the news agency ITAR-Tass reported. Zhirinovsky called the decision a victory for ``the millions of people who will vote for the man they want elected,″ the Interfax news agency reported.

The last-minute candidacy gives him little time to campaign, and Zhirinovsky is not expected to be a significant factor in the election. Acting President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win.

Zhirinovsky gained popularity in the early 1990s with his firebrand rhetoric _ ranging from promises to annex Finland and Alaska to calls for resettling Jews and napalming Chechnya. He also gained notoriety for outbursts and fistfights in parliament, once spitting at legislators and throwing glasses of water on them. He came in fifth in the 1996 presidential election.

But despite his maverick ways, Zhirinovsky and his Liberal Democratic Party consistently backed Yeltsin in showdowns with the parliament, then dominated by Communists.

Zhirinovsky’s candidacy expands the election field to 12. Recent polls show Putin far ahead, with about 60 percent support against about 20 percent for his nearest challenger, Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov.

Zyuganov has repeatedly criticized Putin, saying he does not have a clear electoral program. On Monday, he lashed out at Putin’s statement that Russia should not rule out joining NATO.

``I have a feeling that he doesn’t have a single educated adviser,″ Zyuganov said on the NTV television channel.

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