Kremlin says Lebed threatening to quit

The Kremlin yesterday acted swiftly to counteract rumblings from Alexander Lebed, Russia's security chief, that he may quit after less than four months in high office - a move which would free him to work exclusively on his campaign to succeed Boris Yeltsin.

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf