MOSCOW, January 5th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Ten candidates are standing real chances to participate in the upcoming presidential elections, Chairman of the Central Election Commission Alexander Veshnyakov said Monday.

He explained that the candidates at issue were representing four political parties - the KPRF, the LDPR, the Russian Party of Life and the Party of Russian Regions - plus six self-nominated candidates.

According to Veshnyakov, the first officially registered candidate will be announced later this week when "registration of the LDPR and KPRF candidates is to be considered". These two parties, he added, "have proved their reliability by overcoming the 5% margin, and will not have to gather two million signatures." He recalled that support groups of Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Bryntsalov and Ivan Rybkin had already begun the signature collecting campaign.

In the evening of January 1, the Central Election Commission drew a line under the list of the six independent candidates, including Vladimir Putin, co-chair of the SPS Irina Khakamada, and leader of the Motherland bloc Sergei Glazyev.

6 pm Moscow time of January 6th is the deadline for forwarding candidates from political parties. At the moment, four political parties have forwarded their candidates: Nikolai Kharitonov from the KPRF, Oleg Malyshkin from the LDPR, Sergei Mironov from the Russian Party of Life and Viktor Gerashchenko from the Motherland bloc.

However, despite the fact that Gerashchenko was forwarded by the Party of Russian Regions, which is part of the Motherland bloc that overcame the 5% barrier during the elections, he will have to collect two million signatures anyway. This is due to the fact that the candidate was forwarded by only one of the bloc forming parties.

The gathered signatures are to be presented to the Central Election Commission before January 28th.

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