Lebed Goes to Krasnoyarsk to Start Race

KRASNOYARSK, Siberia -- Former Russian security chief Alexander Lebed has traveled to Krasnoyarsk to launch his candidacy for the office of regional governor.

The ex-army general, who served as President Boris Yeltsin's security chief for just a few months before falling out of favor, intends to submit 23,000 signatures supporting his candidacy to the Krasnoyarsk regional election authorities Monday, Itar-Tass reported.

Lebed, credited with ending the war in Chechnya, was once considered among the top potential contenders for Russia's next presidential election, scheduled for 2000.

But his popularity ratings have declined over the past year, and Russian media have largely ignored him. Many see his attempt to become governor of the large western Siberian region as a bid to regain a prominent place in public.

Arriving in Krasnoyarsk, Lebed told reporters that "Siberians will not lose anything'' because "a bad governor would not be elected president."

If Lebed wins the April 26 vote, he will automatically become a member of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament.