Dark horse Lebed in third place

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The Independent Online
General Alexander Lebed, a 46-year-old former paratroop general, was fast shaping up as the dark horse of the presidential campaign as early results put him in third place with around 15 per cent, writes Phil Reeves.

His extraordinarily low voice, reputation for incorruptibility and tough stance on law and order have won him renown across the nation, especially in Russia's huge military forces.

He became a national figure as commander of Russia's 14th army in Moldova in 1992 when his troops intervened decisively on the side of the breakaway Dnestr region and halted bloodshed between separatists and Moldovan forces.

The general fell out with the Defence Minister, Pavel Grachev, and finally quit his command in July 1995 to enter politics. He is regarded as a moderate nationalist, who believes in free-market reforms and a free press, but places a heavy emphasis on law and order. He won a parliamentary seat in 1995, despite a disappointing campaign and a feud with a co-leader of his then party, the Congress of Russian Communities. The general is widely expected to strike a deal with Boris Yeltsin before July's run- off.