The Courting of Alexander Lebed

  • Share
  • Read Later
MOSCOW: As Boris Yeltsin and Communist leader Gennadi Zyuganov prepare for a runoff election that could be held as early as June 30 to determine who will be the next president of Russia, both sides are cozying up to surprise third place finisher Alexander Lebed. After taking a strong 15 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, the retired general finds himself an important player in the run-off election. "Lebed entered the race late," says TIME's Yuri Zarakhovich. "But he has emerged as a national political leader and has staked a serious claim on the Russian political agenda." After a closed door meeting between the two men Monday, rumors abounded about what Yeltsin might offer Lebed to deliver the vote. "Yeltsin might create a position for Lebed where he would oversee all security forces combined with a role as the Secretary of the Security Council (similar to the U.S National Security Council)," reports Zarakhovich. Zyuganov has so far not made a counteroffer, but one possible move might be to offer Lebed the prime ministership. Lebed hasn't taken the plunge yet, but Zarakhovich reports that he is not likely to lean towards a Communist Party he views as a lost cause. Whomever Lebed decides to support, Zarakhovich says he may not be able to deliver the vote. "Lebed's multi-faceted personality attracted various people from different social groups," says Zarakhovich. "His supporters are likely to split down the middle: either pro-Zyuganov or anti-Zyuganov." -->