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By Emil Danielyan

Former Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian on Thursday kept open the possibility of his participation in the upcoming presidential election, denying former Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s claims that he is not seeking to return to power.

A statement by Ter-Petrosian’s office said Yeltsin’s announcement last week that the Armenian ex-president will not contest the February vote was “most probably the result of a misunderstanding.”

The two men, who had presided over the establishment of close ties between Russia and Armenia in the early 1990s, met on October 15 during Yeltsin’s week-long trip to Armenia. Yeltsin told reporters two days later that Ter-Petrosian “is not going to engage in politics and put forward his candidacy for the Armenian presidency.” Some close associates of Ter-Petrosian immediately called into question that statement, saying that the latter did not reveal his political plans to his former Russian counterpart.

Ter-Petrosian’s office said the ex-president will decide on his participation in the 2003 ballot “within the time frame set by the Republic of Armenia legislation for the nomination of presidential candidates.”

Under Armenia’s Electoral Code, candidates must file for registration no later than 75 days before the voting. With the presidential election scheduled for February 19, this means that Ter-Petrosian has to make a final decision before December 6.

The 57-year-old ex-president has led a reclusive life since his forced resignation in 1998 and has so far avoided publicly commenting on his political future.
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