Kremlin says Lebed threatening to quit
Friday 04 October 1996
At the same time, Mr Yeltsin pointedly endorsed the former general's peace deal in Chechnya, singling it out for praise during a radio address to the nation made in an effort to prove to his carping army of critics that he is still in charge in Russia.
Mr Lebed, the Russian government's peace envoy to the war zone and the architect of the Chechen accord, had "fulfilled my instructions", said the president, who is in hospital awaiting a multiple coronary bypass operation later this year.
Such remarks signal a change of tack for Mr Yeltsin who has been increasingly frosty towards Mr Lebed since whisking him into the heart of the Kremlin in the hope of winning his 11m voters in the presidential elections in July. Mr Lebed's overt campaigning, and outspoken remarks - including a demand for the Interior Minister, Anatoly Kulikov, to be fired - have only served to increase the tension.
But, despite his praise, Mr Yeltsin's slow but clear six-minute address was also an attempt to reassert his authority after a fortnight in which Mr Lebed repeatedly challenged itYesterday, after the two men met for the first time in more than two months, the Kremlin issued a statement saying that Mr Lebed has threatened to quit, apparently because he was angered over an appointment to a committee handling senior military posts, but Mr Yeltsin urged him to stay on. Whether this was accurate was unclear.
On Wednesday, Mr Lebed hinted at his departure during a speech to the Russian lower house of parliament, or State Duma, during which he was heckled by shouts of "traitor" from MPs. Unlike most of their electorate, they see the deal as a sell-out to the rebels which will lead to the republic's secession. More than 90 parliamentarians have signed a letter to the consitutional court, accusing Mr Lebed of exceeding his powers.
Although Mr Lebed told them that his mandate as Chechen peace envoy was largely carried out, it is uncertain whether he was seriously contemplating resignation (his press office was keen to quash the suggestion). As one of the three most powerful men in the country, he has tangible powers, wide access to the media, and the ability to raise big money - crucial tools in his battle to become president, which he would be loathe to forfeit.
Yet staying within the Yeltsin administration for too long could also damage his prospects. The Chechen deal is still highly precarious, although the separatists' leader, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, and the Russian prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, pushed on with the process by signing a "joint declaration of principles" in Moscow yesterday.
Thousands of workers across the nation are staging stoppages, hunger strikes, after going unpaid for months. And the general's other main mission, that of crushing the country's rampant corruption, is going to be extremely hard to fulfil, not least because it has penetrated deep into the upper echelons of power.
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 3 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 The Tory donor whose firm is one of Britain’s biggest tax avoiders - with HMRC's blessing
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned
Peaches Geldof: Her final day – and her fatal decision
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israel may have committed war crimes, says UN human rights chief
Taiwan plane crash: Typhoon Matmo could have caused TransAsia Airways disaster, airline suspects
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...
£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...