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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Says Very Likely To Run for Re-election

President Boris Yeltsin told a group of foreign investors Monday that he will very likely run for reelection in the June 16 ballot and that he expects it to be a tough fight, making his candidacy all but official.

"It looks as though I will give my consent to stand in the presidential elections," said Yeltsin. "I say 'perhaps' or 'apparently' because I will announce my final decision around Feb. 13-15.

"I understand that if I agree [to run], the fight will be pretty tough," he added. "But we hope for the best."

Yeltsin's announcement hardly came as a surprise. Analysts have been predicting his candidacy for several months, and the president's actions since the Communist Party victory in the December parliamentary elections have only increased the certainty.

He has adopted a new hardline image that observers say is meant to attract voters away from his rivals, sacking the last reformers in his cabinet, making populist promises to the electorate, and taking a tough stance against Chechen rebels in a hostage crisis in Pervomaiskoye.

Yeltsin moved to reassure foreign investors Monday, saying that Russia would stick to the path of reform. But the president's policy shifts have made some foreign governments nervous. They have also cost him support in his traditional liberal constituency at home.

On Monday, longtime Yeltsin loyalist and former prime shred of hope that the president will continue on the path of reform. Appearing NTV's program "Hero of the Day" Monday evening, the author of Russia's economic "shock therapy" said he was moderately optimistic that his influence with Yeltsin would persuade the president to make a rational decision.

"The Yeltsin of 1991 and the Yeltsin of 1996 are two completely different men," he said. "The democrats cannot support him; it is impossible."

The search is on for a candidate that all democratic factions can support, said Gaidar, but he is not making any predictions yet.

Yeltsin will be entering a crowded field of presidential hopefuls. Several candidates have already declared their intention to run, including reformer Grigory Yavlinsky, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and retired general Alexander Lebed.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov is expected to announce his candidacy in February; Pyotr Romanov, who represents a more hardline faction of the Communist Party, is also gathering signatures. Filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin and maverick financier Sergei Mavrodi will also be on the ballot.

The Central Election Commission has so far registered 17 groups hoping to nominate candidates for chief executive.

Yeltsin has already begun to put together his election team. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and Yeltsin's new chief of staff Nikolai Yegorov are expected to announce Tuesday the creation of a structure to support Yeltsin's re-election, Interfax reported.

The two may be joined by Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov and former chief of staff Sergei Filatov, the report continued.

But Yeltsin will have an uphill battle persuading voters to trust him, if the vitriol of the Russian press is any indication.

"Today, when the time for re-election is drawing near, the president is doing his best to destroy his already dwindling chances of reviving popular support for his policies," wrote commentator Otto Latsis in Saturday's Izvestia.

"With his fateful miscalculations Yeltsin will give his opponents in the elections more weighty arguments against him than they could think up themselves," Segodnya's Alexander Bekker proclaimed.