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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 December, 2003, 01:36 GMT
Russian firebrand quits election
Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Mr Zhirinovsky is well known for his parliamentary outbursts
Russian ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky has pulled out of next year's presidential elections.

Mr Zhirinovsky had announced plans to run in the 14 March election, but made the surprise announcement on Friday that he had changed his mind.

Mr Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) came in third in recent parliamentary elections. He has stood every year for parliament since 1991, before the break-up of the Soviet Union.

"I will not be a candidate... to avoid creating a personality cult," he told a congress of his party on Friday.

The party congress later chose Oleg Malyshkin, a 50-year-old former boxer and a political unknown, as its presidential candidate, Interfax news agency reported.

The LDPR won 11.5 percent of the parliamentary vote earlier this month, some way behind President Putin's United Russia, which won by a large majority.

Outbursts and brawls

Mr Zhirinovsky pledged to support his party's new candidate.

"I will personally address the electorate and use all means to bring across the LDPR's message," Mr Zhirinovsky said.

"We have to show the country that the LDPR is a party of patriots and democrats."

Mr Zhirinovsky earned his reputation for fiery rhetoric during frequent outbursts and brawls in parliament,

Even so, his party has a slavish pro-Kremlin voting record.

Mr Putin - with an approval rating of around 80% - is widely expected to be re-elected in March.

Russia's liberals boycott poll
21 Dec 03  |  Europe
Russian democracy in question
08 Dec 03  |  Europe

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