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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aide Hits Out at Plotters Against 'Tsar-like' Lebed

TIRASPOL, Moldova -- A top aide to controversial Lieutenant General Alexander Lebed predicted Tuesday that his boss would be Russia's next president and compared him to Peter the Great.


Colonel Mikhail Bergman accused unnamed plotters in the Defense Ministry of conspiring to oust Lebed in return for bribes from his political enemies.


Last week, the ministry announced plans for a reorganisation which would abolish the 14th Army command structure and reduce it to a division, thus abolishing Lebed's job.


General Lebed, said by Bergman to be "very depressed," is due back in Moldova after leave in Moscow at the end of the week with his fate still uncertain.


"The reorganisation of the 14th Army is a plot to destabilize the situation," Bergman, the Tiraspol military commandant, told Reuters. "It's a plot in the Defense Ministry."


He accused leaders of the breakaway Transdnestr republic, whose capital is Tiraspol, of paying officials in Moscow to dismiss Lebed, who has accused them of arms trading and corruption.


Bergman gave no evidence for his accusations but said only President Boris Yeltsin now had the power to save Lebed.


Lebed was a key figure in Yeltsin's 1991 defeat of a hardline putsch in Moscow and helped save him again by refusing appeals for support by vice president Alexander Rutskoi during last October's Moscow power struggle.


"Unless the president stands up for Lebed the way Lebed stood up for him, he won't remain in office for more than three months," Bergman predicted.


Bergman described Lebed as "a historic figure, a personality," adding: "He will be president of Russia. I tell you that as a fact. In Russia people who are disgraced have always come to power."