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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nikolayev Set to Win Duma Seat

Andrei Nikolayev, the former director of the State Border Service who has publicly hinted that he may run for president in 2000, looks certain to win election to the State Duma on Sunday, providing what analysts said could be a political launching pad.

"It is a good opportunity for someone who wants to remain in the spotlight until [the presidential election]," said Vladimir Pribylovsky, president of the PANORAMA think-tank.

Pribylovsky and several other political analysts said Nikolayev, 48, is likely to beat all eight rivals in the Duma election set for this Sunday in southern Moscow's Orekhovo-Borisovo district.

The poll had initially attracted a star-studded field of candidates, including former Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, but most of Nikolayev's stronger rivals pulled out of the race earlier this week alleging unfair campaign tactics by Nikolayev.

On Friday the Supreme Court ordered the Moscow City Court to consider an appeal filed by three former candidates who argue that Nikolayev should be barred from running in Orekhovo-Borisovo because he has enjoyed illegal favoritism from city authorities and biased media coverage. The city court is yet to decide when to hold a hearing on this appeal, which it had thrown out earlier this spring.

Nikolayev has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

About 80 percent of more than two dozen people questioned on Orekhovo-Borisovo streets Friday said they would vote for the commander, who resigned in December after four years as chief of the border service.

Only a few said they will vote against Nikolayev. "I think he has stayed in power more than enough ... let the younger try," said Alexander Shulgin, 60.

Shulgin said he would instead vote for Oleg Sotnikov, a 31-year-old manager of a private company whose posters have been glued atop Nikolayev's along Orekhovo-Borisovo's main streets.

Political analysts said that if Nikolayev wins, he could link with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who has made no secret of their warm relations, to push Nikolayev for the presidency in 2000.