Moscow's new security boss denies coup

Russia's new security supremo, Alexander Lebed, yesterday withdrew accusations that a group of generals had planned to put pressure on President Boris Yeltsin to stop the sacking of Defence Minister Pavel Grachev. Speaking to the State Duma (lower house), Gen Lebed played down the affair which he himself had made public on Tuesday, the day of Gen Grachev's dismissal.

Gen Lebed told the Duma that Gen Grachev's press secretary, Yelena Agapova, had tried to organise a campaign of telegrams from military units to the president to keep the minister in his job. He had intervened. "I sent a telegram to units in the Moscow military district ... telling them to stay calm and get on with training. There was a half-joking recommendation to the generals not to waste official funds on telegrams of condolence."

On Tuesday, Gen Lebed caused a sensation by telling a news conference he had forestalled a "GKChP-3" - suggesting a repetition of the attempted military coup in Moscow of 1991. He then described it as not a coup but as an attempt to put pressure on Mr Yeltsin by having the troops on alert, and insisted that several generals, whom he named as involved, should resign.

But yesterday Gen Lebedmade no mention of these allegations, saying that the affair - still under investigation by military prosecutors - had "no future in court".

The acting defence minister, General Mikhail Kolesniko, wrote to the Duma to deny reports that Gen Lebed's intervention on Tuesday had interfered with command and control over the armed forces.

General Viktor Barynkin, acting chief of general staff, told the Duma there had been no attempt to organise a coup. He said that only Mr Yeltsin, as commander- in-chief, had the right to put units on alert.

Gen Lebed, a reserve paratroop general, was named secretary of Mr Yeltsin's Security Council on Tuesday after coming third in the first round of the presidential election.

While MPs were still excited by the drama, ordinary Russians, if they thought about it at all, were taking it in their stride. The general view in the Russian media was that from all the manoeuvring since Sunday's vote, Mr Yeltsin had emerged stronger than his Communist opponent, Gennady Zyuganov, and, barring mistakes, stood a good chance in the two-man run- off next month.

"People will be much more inclined to vote for Yeltsin now," said Nina Derbina, a pensioner who, despite her anger over the war in Chechnya, had supported Mr Yeltsin in the first round because she regarded Communism as the greater evil. "We all hated Korzhakov and those cronies who were such a bad influence on our President."

In its editorial, the daily Moscow Times, said: "Yeltsin's house has been cleaned. For the first time in the election campaign, there is cause for hope - voters are not just being given a choice between evils."

The sackings seemed to have left the Communists reeling. Mr Zyuganov said they illustrated the dangerous rifts in the team around the President, but he did not make sufficient political capital out of the affair to woo the new voters he needs in addition to the constituency of mainly elderly people on whose support he can always rely.

Mr Yeltsin, on the other hand, is making inroads to the electorates of the other candidates who stood on 16 June. A large proportion of Gen Lebed's supporters are now likely to vote for Mr Yeltsin, though some may believe their hero has sold out to the Kremlin and so they will vote Communist.

Grigory Yavlinsky, head of the liberal Yabloko Party, expressed satisfaction with the dismissals. It is probable that Yabloko will throw its weight behind Mr Yeltsin at its Congress today and tomorrow.

The danger for Mr Yeltsin is that his supporters might become complacent. For the President to win, it is essential that the turn-out does not drop below 63 per cent. Which is why the second round has been set for 3 July, a Wednesday to overcome the "Dacha factor," - absenteeism caused by Russians spending summer weekends at their country cottages.

Suggested Topics
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
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

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice