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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lebed-Korzhakov Alliance Goes Public

The long-rumored alliance between national security tsar Alexander Lebed and former presidential bodyguard Alexander Korzhakov has finally become public with Lebed's formal announcement of support for Korzhakov in his bid for Lebed's old seat in the State Duma.


Side by side on a podium Sunday in the city of Tula, 160 kilometers south of Moscow, the pair basked in the fall sunshine and the obvious approval of the crowd. Lebed, who had come to Tula to speak at a ceremony marking the 850th anniversary of the city's founding, was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the constituency that voted him into the Duma last December with an overwhelming majority.


Lebed had to relinquish his seat, however, upon his appointment as national security adviser and secretary of the National Security Council in June.


"I hope very much that with your help and participation I will have a worthy successor, and we, together, with God's help, will eliminate the stupidity," said Lebed, quoted in Tuesday's Izvestia.


He is also quoted by The Associated Press as saying he would support Korzhakov and make public appearances on his behalf.


Asked why he was supporting Korzhakov, Lebed told NTV Independent Television: "I have simply so decided."


Lebed has made no secret of the fact that he intends to be the next president of Russia, and his surprisingly strong third-place showing in the first round of the presidential elections in June put him in the front ranks of possible contenders. But he lacks experience in Kremlin politics, something that Korzhakov, with his decade-plus at President Boris Yeltsin's side, can supply in ample quantity.


Korzhakov also reportedly has a sizable war chest, which would certainly help Lebed to realize his ambitions.


But, perhaps just as valuable, Korzhakov, ex-master of the Kremlin, claims to have compromising material on many high-ranking officials.


Izvestia commentator Otto Latsis writes in Tuesday's edition that Lebed has joined up with Korzhakov more for this kompromat than his money.


Korzhakov has been out of the Kremlin limelight since his summary ouster in June. His entry into politics, and his budding partnership with Lebed, could be his ticket back to the top.


First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Ilyushin, formerly said. "Korzhakov is an interesting figure, around which an interesting balance of forces is taking shape."


The kompromat war continued Monday when Boris Fyodorov, former head of the National Sports Fund, told a press conference that Colonel Valery Streletsky, the former Korzhakov aide who became the fund's president after Fyodorov was dismissed, was probably behind an attempt to kill him in June.


"This is up to the investigation, to the law court to decide," said Fyodorov, 37. "But I have to say that a series of events that preceded [the attack] would seem to suggest this is the case."


Fyodorov has been at the center of a sleaze war that seems designed to discredit Korzhakov and to prevent his alliance with the popular Lebed. Analysts have posited that the force behind the anti-Korzhakov rhetoric is Anatoly Chubais, Yeltsin's chief of staff, who, according to Korzhakov, is acting as "regent to a living president."


Fyodorov, who on Oct. 6 charged that Korzhakov had tried to extort $40 million from him, told reporters that Streletsky repeatedly threatened him. Fyodorov said he was subsequently harassed by the presidential security service, which was then headed by Korzhakov.


"I have documentary evidence of [this harassment], and there is testimony by witnesses who are still alive," said Fyodorov.


He also said documents proving the extortion attempt were "carefully hidden" in Switzerland.


Korzhakov and Streletsky have charged that Fyodorov stole $40 million from budget funds earmarked for the construction of a health center. Fyodorov on Monday called this charge "outright fraud."


Last week, Izvestia reported that Fyodorov had gone public as part of a deal with Chubais, in exchange for a promise that he would be restored to his old post at the sports fund.


Fyodorov denied this Monday, saying he had neither consulted with any official nor received "guarantees" either from Chubais or Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin prior to his Oct. 6 television interview.


Fyodorov, who had said Friday that Korzhakov had serious, compromising materials on high officials, backtracked on Monday, saying he had been misunderstood.


"I am not all that sure that Korzhakov has compromising materials. ... I think there is a lot of exaggeration," he said.


Fyodorov said he plans to appeal his dismissal from the sports fund in court, and that he will sue Streletsky for squandering the finances of the Sports Fund.