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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lebed Views Governor Post As Springboard to Kremlin

Alexander Lebed, who has often expressed his desire to replace President Boris Yeltsin, said Friday that he decided to run for governor of a Siberian province because he had "lost the feeling that I am needed" in the Kremlin.

"But," he quickly added, "I am absolutely sure this feeling will come back again."

Lebed, whose national popularity has waned in the past year, recently submitted nominating papers to election officials in the central Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk. He is expected to formally declare his candidacy next week.

In an interview, the retired general acknowledged that he saw the post as a potential springboard to the presidency.

"I've decided to put my faith into the hands of the people of Krasnoyarsk," he said. "If they decide that their governor is worthy of running for president, then I will go. If not, then it's useless."

Lebed has never lived in Krasnoyarsk and may face a challenge to his candidacy based on federal campaign laws. His younger brother, Alexei, is governor of neighboring Khakasia.

"We need to do in Krasnoyarsk what is needed to be done throughout Russia," Lebed said. "Land must be returned to its owners in a civilized manner. Taxes should be reduced and industry revived. ... And finally, we must create the conditions for investment."

Lebed challenged Yeltsin in the first round of the 1996 presidential election, and later accepted a post as the president's security chief. His popularity peaked that summer when he negotiated an end to the war in Chechnya, but he was soon ousted from the government after a series of controversial remarks.

Lebed has since made no secret of his disdain for Yeltsin, referring to him as "Tsar Boris" and contending that the president is too senile to govern. As if to underscore that attitude, Lebed has scheduled a news conference at Interfax in Moscow for 2 p.m. Tuesday -- when Yeltsin is due to be giving his annual state-of-the-nation address.