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Soviet dissident Bukovsky pulls out of presidential race

MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Constitutional Court refused on Wednesday to consider an appeal from supporters of Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky against a ban on presidential candidates holding dual nationality.

Vadim Prokhorov, a lawyer for Vladimir Kara-Murza, who coordinates Bukovsky's action group, said the court refused to consider the appeal due to the legal clarity of the ban.

"The court gave certain arguments that the appeal is not worth considering because it is clear that a citizen with dual nationality cannot run for official positions," the lawyer said.

Bukovsky, 64, who has spent the last 31 years in the U.K., has Russian and British citizenship, which rules him out as a presidential contender.

Kommersant daily quoted Bukovsky on Monday as saying he had signed a deal with another two runners, former premier Mikhail Kasyanov and Boris Nemtsov, an ex-deputy prime minister and a former leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS), to coordinate activities in the run-up to the elections.

A writer, publicist and neurophysiologist, Bukovsky spent a total of 12 years in prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals in the Soviet Union for his anti-Soviet views. He was released in 1976 and deported to the United Kingdom, in exchange for Chilean Communist leader Luis Corvalan. The dissident was given Russian citizenship in 1992 by late president Boris Yeltsin.

Nina Kulyasova, a Central Election Commission member, said on Wednesday four party nominees and 11 independent candidates were currently running for the presidential election scheduled for March 2, 2008.

Tuesday was the deadline for independent candidates to submit documents to the commission. Kulyasova said election officials would consider registering an action group for Oleg Shenin, who took part in the coup d'etat in 1991, later in the day.

Kasyanov and Andrei Bogdanov, leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, have already been formally nominated by supporters and will now have to produce 2 million signatures in support of their nominations.

Kulyasova said four parties had officially nominated candidates. They are First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, put forward by the pro-presidential United Russia party and backed by President Vladimir Putin, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Boris Nemtsov, an SPS leader.

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