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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lebed Campaigning in Germany

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Russian politician Alexander Lebed, grinning and joking as he arrived in Germany for a five-day visit, said he is sure he will be his country's next president and will visit the United States after his inauguration.

Last week in Moscow, the highly popular Lebed called 65-year-old Russian President Boris Yeltsin an "old, sick man" who should resign.

But when asked just how sick Yeltsin is, Lebed, a retired general, responded through a translator: "He's sick, but as a parachute general I'm not in a position to make that kind of comment.

"If you're a parachutist, you're only dead or alive."

Before he flew from Moscow to Germany as the guest of the private German-Russian Forum, Lebed had been quoted by Interfax as saying Yeltsin's "poor health" might mean Russians will be electing a new president soon.

"I want to become president, and I will," Lebed said.

Lebed said he came to Germany, "to find out what Germany thinks, what Germany is like. This is one of the leading countries of Europe."

Also, he added, "I need investment for my country."

Lebed is due to meet with the leaders in parliament of major German parties, but government spokesman Peter Hausmann said Lebed's trip is being treated as a private visit.

Lebed was invited for the five-day visit by the German-Russian Forum and the German Society for Foreign Policy. He was due in Bonn on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday was scheduled to hold talks with leaders of Germany's parliamentary parties.

On Wednesday evening he is to give a talk on the theme "What is Russia expecting from Europe?" and dine with German business representatives. On Thursday he plans to address industrialists in D--sseldorf.

When asked if he would also be visiting the United States in the near future, Lebed answered, "I will go to the United States after my inauguration."

Russia's NTV Independent Television, however, quoted the ex-general as saying he would go to the United States to attend President Bill Clinton's inauguration.

On Sunday, Lebed said on Russian television he had collected $250 million in campaign funds from "Russian people who are interested in improving the situation in the country."

But during an interview at Frankfurt airport, Lebed did not answer when asked where he got so much money.

His translator said, "If you had asked him, 'Do you have that money?' he would have answered, 'No.'"

Another aide to Lebed, who did not identify himself, said, "But he will find it."

Yeltsin was re-elected last July for a term that runs until 2000. He has been largely sidelined for the past six months with heart trouble and this month with double pneumonia.

Yeltsin fired Lebed as national security adviser in October. In response, Lebed has harshly criticized his former boss and formed his own political party. Several opinion polls have shown Lebed to be the most popular politician in Russia. (AP, AFP)g on Moscow's roads, violations committed by diplomats are a minor headache, said Viktor Tomychev, the GAI official responsible for foreign motorists. "If you give someone a car, then accidents will happen, whoever the driver is," he said Wednesday.

the feed of power in the region to 12 to 14 hours a day.

"I think it became clear that the cities, the children were going cold for nothing," Krupelnitsky said.

On Monday night, strikes were also officially called off in Vorkuta, located in the northern Komi republic, because the stock of coal was running dangerously low, union representatives said.

But in Kuzbass, Russia's largest coal producing region, the energy crisis appears to be approaching boiling point, with power plant workers threatening to join the miners by Dec. 16 if the wage arrears are not paid, regional administrators said.

Further, teachers in three of the region's cities -- including the capital of Kemerovo -- and one rural school district have also walked off their jobs demanding back pay, Kemerovo administration spokesman Valery Kazakov said Monday

An additional 90,000 teachers in 27 of Russia's 89 regions went on strike Saturday, said Interfax, quoting union representatives. The report said the health care union was threatening to follow suit.

Perhaps the only piece of good news for the government came from St. Petersburg, where nuclear power plant workers ended a nine-day hunger strike after the government promised to pay up all wage arrears by Dec. 16.

A dozen workers at the Leningrad Atomic Energy Plant agreed to end their fast. Strikers were doled out about $200 each, and the protest ended Saturday.