Russian poll draws fake royals, eccentrics

MOSCOW – A self-styled tsar, four empresses and scores of other eccentrics have sought to register for Russian presidential elections in March, the country’s elections chief said on Monday.

“Well now, we have four empresses with different names and a tsar,” Central Election Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov told a news conference, leafing through a thick folder with more than 100 applications from independent candidates.

“The empresses put it in a very simple way: ‘The election cannot be held without us, because we are Russia’s autocratic rulers’,” he said. “The true Romanovs (the last dynasty of Russian tsars), who I know well, are not among them,” he smiled.

Official registration of candidates for the March 2 poll ended last weekend but applications are still flowing in, Churov said. Kremlin-backed candidate Dmitry Medvedev is widely expected to trounce the other three main contenders.

“I demand you register me as an independent candidate and I advise you to treat this matter seriously,” Churov quoted one hopeful as writing.

“Copies have been sent to the European Court of Human Rights, the OSCE (pan-European security body), the U.S., NATO, the United Nations and all Russian and international organizations,” the letter added.

The Strasbourg-based human rights court has registered the application, Churov said with a sigh.

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