. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lebed Launches Salvo at The West

The Kremlin's new security chief Alexander Lebed lashed out Thursday against corrupting Western influences, Western religions and theft by foreigners in a tough speech to nationalist supporters, while committing himself again to the "new idea" of reform.


The speech, coming just six days before the final round of presidential elections July 3, amounted to populist campaigning and, somewhat confusingly, came on the same day Lebed distanced himself from a hardline national security program issued in his name.


The policy statement, published Wednesday by Interfax, calls for a tougher approach to the West, restrictions on foreigners entering or traveling in Russia, and extending state control over privatization and exports of raw materials.


In a statement to Itar-Tass, Lebed said the statement represented the collective conclusions of the Security Council, based on studies carried out before his appointment.


"A great deal of work was done and it is necessary to remember this," Itar-Tass quoted the statement as saying. "But one must set the approaches and emphasis in accordance with current realities and priorities."


Lebed, 46, has already made it clear that he intends to exercise sweeping powers from his posts as Security Council Secretary and presidential national security adviser, conferred on him by President who had backed his candidacy in the first round vote is any indication, the final word according to Lebed is likely to be quite as belligerent as the program he disowned.


Referring to Western religious sects, Lebed said they represented "a direct threat to Russia's security."


"We have established, traditional religions -- Russian Orthodoxy, Islam and Buddhism. Throughout the history of Russia we never had religious wars," he said, adding that these religions should be allowed to develop and flourish.


"But as for all these other sects -- Mormons, Aum Shinrikyo -- all this is mold and scum that is artificially brought into this country with the aim of perverting, corrupting and ultimately breaking up our state. Therefore, the state must rise to the defense of its citizens and outlaw all these foul sects."


In similar vein, Lebed railed against Western cultural influences, which he said had filled Russian television with "sexual trash or violence or soap opera" and called for the revival of Russian culture, which was "one of the cornerstones of our national security."


"We are the most intelligent country in the world. Seventy-four percent of all inventions in the world have their origins in Russia," he said. "They were either bought or stolen from us, we either lost or boozed them away.


"Everyone comes to Russia to steal," Lebed said. "I'm against this. Russia's wealth is for Russia."


Lebed's remarks drew noisy applause from his audience, who included a large contingent of Cossacks, self-appointed defenders of Russia's borders and traditions. Lebed paid particular tribute to the Cossacks, whom he described as "born to fight," "born victors, who go into battle with only one thing in mind, to tear out the throat of the enemy."


Responding to one Cossack, who prefaced his question with an apology, Lebed replied, "You call yourself a Cossack, but your approach is Jewish."


Several delegates asked about how the general would fight crime, while one worried that Lebed would be used and then spat out by the politicians in the Kremlin within a few months of the July 3 second round. Lebed responded with a barely veiled threat that any such move by the Kremlin would result in bloodshed and war.


But underlying the nationalist rhetoric and law-and-order grandstanding there were more sober appeals from the general.


Lebed pledged to work for the restoration of ties between Russia and the other Slavic republics of the former Soviet Union, but stressed the need to proceed in a circumspect manner with due respect for sovereignty and independence. He condemned the resolution passed by the Communist-dominated State Duma in March declaring invalid the accords that dissolved the Soviet Union in 1991.


"What has been the practical outcome? It was nil, it could not be otherwise. What is needed is concrete action to create a common economic system, to simplify border procedures, to set up a common customs system," he said.


He expressed his thanks to his audience for their support before going on to explain his decision to back Yeltsin in the second round of the elections, a decision he said had been based on a choice between an old discredited system and a new idea, "poorly implemented at present," but with a real future.


"That is why I told myself that I will not doom the country -- my country, my future is in this country, the future of my children and grandchildren."