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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rybkin Suggests He Was Hiding

APIvan Rybkin
In a rambling hourlong radio interview, presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin suggested Wednesday that for at least part of his five-day absence in Ukraine he was hiding out from shadowy operatives -- but at the same time he lashed out at authorities for not being able to inform Russians about his whereabouts.

Rybkin also announced "a weeklong time-out" to decide whether or not to scrap his candidacy in the March 14 election, which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win.

Rybkin, a long-shot presidential candidate and fierce Kremlin critic, resurfaced in Kiev on Tuesday. He flew back to Moscow, returning to a torrent of questions about what happened since he was last seen by his bodyguard and driver outside his Moscow home on Thursday night.

Initially, Rybkin suggested his absence was just a much-needed rest from the swirl of activity around his campaign, but after arriving back in Moscow, he hinted at a more sinister reason.

"If I had started to say what I'm saying to you now ... it is possible that we wouldn't be having this conversation," Rybkin said on Ekho Moskvy radio on Wednesday.

But when asked point-blank if he was the victim of violence or some type of assassination attempt, he answered evasively, "I don't want to qualify it."

Moscow police on Wednesday formally closed their investigation, which began Sunday when Rybkin's wife, Albina, and his campaign staff officially reported him missing.

Rybkin gave odd accounts of people that he came across in Kiev who might have been involved in intrigues against him. He never specified exactly what he meant, however.

"For the last two years, I've been shadowed," he said, adding later that when he saw the news reports about his disappearance, he suddenly felt "very uncomfortable" and felt the need to hide out.