Lebed Remains Neutral for Runoff: Suggests Alliance to Reunite Russia
Karash, Yuri, Sieff, Martin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Russia's new national security chief, Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed, will not endorse Boris Yeltsin for a second term as president but joined his government this week in order to restore civil order and "prevent a civil war," he told The Washington Times in an interview yesterday.
Saying he met yesterday with Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, Gen. Lebed appeared to propose that Mr. Yeltsin and Mr. Zyuganov form a coalition government after they meet in a presidential runoff election early next month.
Whichever man wins the runoff, which is expected to be held July 3, "will rule a country where at least 30 million supporters of his political opponent live," the general said in faxed replies from Moscow to written questions.
Gen. Lebed, whose father spent two years in a Soviet concentration camp under dictator Josef Stalin, emphasized his distaste for communism, saying, "there will be no more Red commissars" in Russia.
But dispelling the idea that he had firmly joined the Yeltsin camp for the runoff by accepting the post of national security adviser, he suggested he does not like Mr. Yeltsin much better than he does Mr. Zyuganov.
"I have repeated many times that I have a stable allergy to the former members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) Central Committee who have become candidates for the second presidential runoff, that is, to Yeltsin and Zyuganov," he said.
"I have serious reasons to consider both of them as being far from ideal leaders for such a complex country as Russia. I will not advocate either for Yeltsin or Zyuganov."
Mr. Lebed said he agreed Tuesday to serve as Mr. Yeltsin's security chief "only because I see a real possibility of giving the people of Russia truth, law and order and to prevent a civil war in the country."
The general said he believed his supporters "voted for the elimination of 80 years of division of the country into whites and reds, the division which now [appears] as anti-reformers against anti-Communists.
"If you look at the electoral platforms of these two very different politicians, you will see they are very much alike," Gen. Lebed said.
Mr. Yeltsin emerged from Sunday's first round of voting with a 3 percent lead over Mr. Zyuganov. Gen. Lebed finished with 15 percent of the vote. Mr. Yeltsin quickly brought Gen. Lebed into his government, hoping to secure the runoff votes of the general's supporters.
Mr. Yeltsin gained additional support yesterday when eye surgeon Syatoslav Fyodorov, who won less than 1 percent of the vote, threw his support to the president. An aide to economist Grigory Yavlinsky, who received 7 percent, suggested he would do the same.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the unpredictable ultranationalist who finished fifth in the first round with 6 percent of the vote, stopped short of endorsing Mr. …