Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yeltsin Names Rival to Key Security Post President Hopes to Boost Chances in Runoff

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yeltsin Names Rival to Key Security Post President Hopes to Boost Chances in Runoff

Article excerpt

PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN won a powerful new ally on Tuesday, appointing retired Gen. Alexander Lebed as Russia's security chief.

Yeltsin named Lebed, who finished third in Russia's presidential vote Sunday, as secretary of the president's secretive Security Council and as national security adviser, giving him new, wide-ranging powers. Yeltsin also dismissed Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, a longtime foe of Lebed's.

Lebed's appointment was meant to boost Yeltsin's chances in the presidential runoff a few weeks away against Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov. Yeltsin and Zyuganov each took about a third of the vote in the first round.

Giving him a further boost, Yeltsin agreed with reporters that he saw Lebed as his likely successor in 2000.

The general immediately attacked the president's Communist foes. And within hours, he announced that he had prevented what he called an attempted coup by top generals. He later toned down that characterization. He also promised a crackdown on crime and corruption, and said he would bring the chaotic armed services under control.

"The situation in the country is very complex and explosive," he said at a news conference. "Whoever wants to defuse it must meet the danger face to face, even with a sword."

Lebed's support didn't come cheap. As head of the Security Council, he will oversee military and police forces and advise the president on major national security issues. He said he also received additional powers, including the right to endorse personnel and structural changes in security organs.

Following a brief meeting with Yeltsin, Lebed, stood next to the president in a gilded Kremlin reception room. In his booming voice, Lebed said the deal "would serve not only as the unification of politicians, but of the forces serving them." Yeltsin made a clear pitch to Lebed's voters, saying the appointment unified "two political programs. …

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