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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lebed Announces Run for Governor

Former army General Alexander Lebed denied Tuesday that he was using his bid for the governorship in Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region as a springboard for the presidential elections in 2000.

Lebed put an end to several months of speculation Tuesday by confirming that he would register as a candidate in the Krasnoyarsk elections, set to take place April 26.

There has been widespread speculation that Lebed, 48, sees the post a stepping-stone to greater ambitions, but the former paratrooper said at a news conference his only goal if elected governor was to make the huge western Siberian region strong and prosperous.

"I'm going there to work, and I'm prepared to entrust my fate in the people of Krasnoyarsk entirely," Lebed said, explaining that he chose the region because it is "Russia on a smaller scale," and is faced with the same problems as the whole country.

Lebed singled out incumbent Governor Valery Zubov and Communist Party member Pyotr Romanov as his key rivals. A recent survey in Krasnoyarsk region gave Lebed a 14 percent support rating to Zubov's 11 percent.

If he is victorious, Lebed will take a seat in the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament.

Lebed finished third in the opening round of the 1996 presidential elections. Prior to the second round, President Boris Yeltsin appointed him secretary of the Security Council, but dismissed him a few months later alleging Lebed was already preparing his campaign to succeed as president.

Commentators have warned that if Lebed fails to win the governorship of Krasnoyarsk region, it could spell the end of a political career already flagging since he was ejected from the Kremlin. But in an interview published in Tuesday's Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, he was bullish.

"If in 2000 Russian voters need me as a politician of national scale, capable of restoring order in the country, then no failures will hinder me," Lebed said in the interview.

Lebed's younger brother Alexei is governor of the republic of Khakassia, which shares a border with Krasnoyarsk territory. Media reports have claimed Alexei Lebed is building a campaign base in the republic for his older brother.

At his first news briefing in several months, Lebed took the opportunity to hold forth on a range of issues. Commenting on Yeltsin's address to the nation earlier Tuesday, Lebed said he had listened to it twice and come to the conclusion that the president does not understand the situation in the country.

Regarding the current state of the armed forces, Lebed said there was "no army" in Russia at the moment and that there was no comparison with the Soviet Army, which "despite its faults was an army."

Lebed questioned plans by Interior Ministry Anatoly Kulikov to create a "Russian legion" inside the ministry.

Also Tuesday, former director of the State Border Service Andrei Nikolayev formally registered as a candidate for the State Duma, parliament's lower house. He is to run for a vacant seat in southern Moscow.