Lebed Shores Up The Home Front

  • Share
  • Read Later
MOSCOW: Interrupting his efforts to end the 20-month old civil war in Chechnya, Russian security chief Alexander Lebed returned to Moscow on Monday to brief Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on his progress. Although the Lebed negotiated cease-fire remains tenuous but intact, winning the truce may have been the easy part. The backdrop to the meeting between the two men is the criticism Lebed has absorbed in recent days from President Boris Yeltsin and other government officials. A meeting with Chernomyrdin is unlikely to help Lebed's cause; the Prime Minster already distrusts Lebed as an ambitious newcomer. While politicians in Moscow plot, there is already stress on the fragile pact: Chechens troops attacked and disarmed a Russian convoy near the Chechen capital Grozny, reportedly without inflicting a single casualty. Russian commanders demanded a return of the weapons, threatening to cut off talks and end their withdrawal. The rebels said the arms will be returned, but their point was made. The assault was yet another example of the embarrassment the determined Chechen troops have been able to inflict on the dispirited Russian forces. The attack may delay the mutual withdrawal from Grozny scheduled to begin Tuesday. It may also remind Russian commanders that their fortunes in Chechnya don't look good. -->