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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Building a Kremlin Bid on 'I Was First'

For MTSergei Glubokov
Sergei Glubokov says he has something in common with President Vladimir Putin.

Putin was 37 when he moved into the civilian world from the KGB, Glubokov notes. Twelve years later, he became the president.

"I am also 37 years old, and I am radically changing my life," Glubokov, a Moscow lecturer who claims to own several speed-reading records, wrote in a letter to Putin this week.

"I intend to become the president of Russia, even if it happens a few election cycles from now. I have begun my journey," he said.

On Nov. 29, Glubokov became the first person to inform the Central Elections Commission of his intention to run in the March 2 presidential election, said Viktoria Galanina, a spokeswoman for federal election chief Vladimir Churov.

Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was the second to do so, notifying the commission on Nov. 30, Galanina said. Two others have since followed suit: Oleg Shenin, a former Politburo leader who heads a Communist movement; and Tatyana Postnova, a Moscow economist, Moskovsky Komsomolets reported Thursday.

Speculation has swirled in recent months that the Kremlin could back a dark horse candidate to succeed Putin, who is constitutionally barred from running for a third consecutive term.

And there is, perhaps, no darker horse than Glubokov, who said he sent a letter, dated Dec. 3, to Putin asking for the president's support in his election bid.

"I don't know whether Putin has received my letter yet, but it has arrived at the Kremlin by special delivery," Glubokov said by telephone.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information regarding Glubokov's letter.

In the letter, a copy of which was posted on Glubokov's austere, pink web site -- Glubokov.info -- he pledged his fealty to Putin and entreated the president to attend a gathering of supporters backing his candidacy Saturday.

"If you will do me the honor and accept my offer to attend our congress, I will consider it a blessing and the beginning of a successful march to victory," Glubokov wrote. "Regardless of when that victory will be, I will remain your steadfast supporter, a true continuer of your work and a reliable executor of Putin's Plan."

United Russia adopted Putin's Plan -- essentially a digest of the president's major speeches -- as its platform for the recent State Duma elections. Putin ran as the party's top candidate, turning the elections into a vote for him and his course, rather than for United Russia.

Under election laws, an independent presidential candidate must have at least 500 members of an initiative group nominate him by Dec. 18. If the Central Elections Commission approves the nomination, an independent candidate must then submit 2 million voter signatures by Jan. 16.

Candidates nominated by political parties with factions in the Duma are not required to collect the signatures.

Yury Lyubashevsky, Glubokov's campaign strategist, said Putin was unlikely to attend the initiative group's congress Saturday, scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Mir Concert Hall on Tsvetnoi Bulvar.

"We started too late," Lyubashevsky said of Glubokov's campaign. "If we play our cards right, he could become president in 2012."

Glubokov was more upbeat.

"If Vladimir Vladimirovich agrees to attend, I will collect the signatures and meet the deadline, no problem," he said.

More than 900 supporters are expected at Saturday's congress, Lyubashevsky said.

"If I were Putin's adviser, I would recommend that he show up," Lyubashevsky said. "After all, a citizen who first applied to the elections commission and who could eventually become president is inviting him. Why not come?"

Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said he did not know whether Putin would attend.

But Lyubashevsky noted that Putin has a flare for dramatic surprises. "Maybe Putin will decide to come when no one is expecting it," he said. "Who knows?"

According to a biography on his web site, Glubokov holds degrees in aviation and state economics and has been elected to several municipal district legislative councils since entering politics in 1990.

He describes himself as a "social activist, successful politician and a nonstandard political consultant" who has worked with political candidates "all across Russia -- from Moscow to Vladivostok."

Glubokov said he has managed regional election campaigns for dozens of candidates since the late 1990s, 40 of whom were elected as municipal deputies or mayors. He declined to identify any of the candidates until his presidential campaign officially kicks off.

The Central Elections Commission said last week that the official campaign for the March 2 election would run from Feb. 2 to Feb. 29.

Glubokov said he lectures on public relations and economics at the Moscow Institute of National and Regional Relations. His biography says he holds national speed-reading records.

Glubokov said his platform would focus on fighting corruption, poverty and drug abuse, as well as establishing the rule of law. Putin publicly promoted the "dictatorship of law" as early as February 2000, when he was still the acting president.

But above all, Glubokov appears intent on capitalizing on the novelty of having first notified election officials of his intention to run.

Lyubashevsky called it a shrewd publicity ploy and said political platforms were overrated.

"A platform means nothing if a person is likeable and has the required backing," he said. "Russia voted for Putin, even though no one knows what Putin's Plan is."

Staff Writer Carl Schreck contributed to this report.

Editor's note: This is the 11th is a series of profiles of possible presidential candidates. Previous profiles can be read at www.themoscowtimes.com/doc/special_reports.html.