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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lordly Lebed Confident of Win

Security tsar Alexander Lebed cast his vote in western Moscow Wednesday morning and left no doubt that he plans to take a central role in the leadership of post-election Russia.


Accompanied by his wife Inna and a swarm of reporters, a gregarious and confident Lebed predicted a Yeltsin victory outside a polling station in Moscow's Kuntsevo region.


"The president, of course, will win," he said. "I have no doubt."


But the burly ex-general, who was omnipresent in the news and on the airwaves while President Boris Yeltsin recovered from an illness this past week, furthered speculation that his demands for sweeping policy-making powers for his Security Council may force a post-election showdown between himself and the president.


Asked if he thought he might become an "uncomfortable" member of Yeltsin's team following the election, Lebed replied:


"I already am an uncomfortable member. So what?"


Lebed, who on Tuesday outlined the ambitious economic, military and environmental program he planned to institute as security chief, added that he expected Yeltsin to sign a decree granting him additional powers Wednesday. Yeltsin's press service had no comment about Lebed's powers or the security program.


Although he said he "wasn't interested in power for the sake of power," Lebed's program defines the purview of the Security Council as being so wide that it would make the presidency all but irrelevant.


If he gets his way, Lebed will have the authority to renationalize the military-industrial complex, impose strict travel restrictions on foreigners, forcibly reduce the amount of foreign goods imported into Russia, and use his own methods to eliminate crime and corruption and reform the military.


Lebed, who told the German magazine Der Spiegel a week ago that he thought he might become president "even before the year 2000," which is the scheduled date for the next presidential elections, also offered his view of democracy and concept of the constitutional presidency.


"I do not feel myself to completely be a democrat. Better to say I'm a half-democrat," he said. "If we go down the road of a parliamentary republic, nothing will work out for us.


"About the presidency, I think it is fine. In Russia we had a tsar, and then he was replaced by the general secretary. Now we have a president. It is in our tradition, and all one and the same." Lebed's remarks came in the wake of a series of controversial comments he has made over the course of the last week which left him looking, particularly in light of Yeltsin's absence, like a loose cannon in the presidential adminstration.


On Monday, Lebed said that in his fight against crime he would "shoot people, but reasonably" and that there would be no return to Stalinist-style purges because there is "no enthusiasm" for such measures.


Earlier, he had blasted foreign religious sects, among them the American Mormon Church, as being "filth and scum" which he would prohibit from performing missionary work in Russia.


At his jam-packed Tuesday press conference, which was recorded by more than 40 foreign and local television stations, Lebed did little to back off his earlier rhetoric. When told that some Mormons had been alarmed by his statements, Lebed laughed.


"Oh, poor Mormons," he quipped. "I did not want to offend them, but since they have taken offense, I am planning to send a squad of Seventh Day Adventist parachustists to Salt Lake City. If the Mormons receive them as their own, I will ask for their forgiveness."