Lebed sees off another 7 generals

Fresh from flushing out a cluster of hardliners from his innermost circle, Boris Yeltsin yesterday pressed on with his campaign to win last-minute votes in next week's presidnential election run-off by firing seven army generals.

Among those to get their marching orders in what has become one of Russia's biggest recent shake-ups in national security were four officers accused by Mr Yeltsin's new right-hand man, Alexander Lebed, of trying to organise resistance to last week's dismissal of the Defence Minister, General Pavel Grachev.

The move is another example of General Lebed's sweeping powers in his new job as secretary of the policy-making Security Council and national security adviser - posts which Mr Yeltsin handed him in the hope of winning over a large slice of his nearly 11 million voters in the election's first round. Although Mr Yeltsin did the firing, there is little doubt that it was at the burly former paratrooper's behest.

Yesterday, Mr Yeltsin underscored his protege's new powers in his annual address to the Federal Assembly in which he emphasised that he had conferred all responsibility for national security policy on the Security Council and had instructed General Lebed "to co-ordinate, prepare, pass and implement day-to-day decisions concerning national security".

Although the council held these powers before, the President appears anxious to spell out General Lebed's sweeping authority - a move which will alarm those critics of the Kremlin who fear that its newest arrival is being given far too much power.

Mr Yeltsin's strategy is mostly about winning votes for next Wednesday's run-off in the presidential race against the Communist leader, Gennady Zyuganov. But it may also be an attempt to show he is moving to bring the 4-million-strong military and security services under one overall control, a policy that parts of the military have long called for. A notable advocate of this view is General Igor Rodionov, General Lebed's preferred candidate as the next Minister of Defence.

At the moment, General Lebed seems to be riding high, getting what he asks for. Mr Yeltsin even obliged him yesterday by booting out two officials from the Security Council. His list of scalps - and, now, powerful enemies - already includes four top Kremlin hawks: General Grachev; General Alexander Korzhakov, the head of the presidential guard, ; the chief of the Federal Security Service, General Mikhail Barsukov and Oleg Soskovets, a First Deputy Prime Minister.

Now the general can claim that he has almost fulfilled his goal of getting rid of the officers whom he accused of trying to resist the firing of General Grachev, his arch-enemy.

Although General Lebed has watered down his claim that they were trying to cook up a coup d'etat by trying to persuade General Grachev to place the army on red alert, he was clearly determined to see them go. Their departure marks a clear-out of Grachev loyalists.All eyes are now on the next defence minister.

Among those tipped are General Rodionov, head of the General Staff Academy; General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, commander of Russian forces in Chechnya and the armed forces chief military expert, General Konstantin Kobets.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent