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Monday, 18 May, 1998, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Grudging praise for Lebed
Russia's political establishment reacted with coolness to Aleksander Lebed's victory in Krasnoyarsk, which they were united in trying to stop.

Congratulations in order

Presidential Press Secretary, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said on Ekho Moskvy radio that he was sure Boris Yeltsin, who once sacked Lebed, would soon be sending the new governor a telegram of congratulations as his priority was "not emotion, not personal relations with any particular politician, but the interests of the matter in hand".

"From the point of view of Russia, he now enjoys the trust of the voters of Krasnoyarsk Territory, and I think that it has to be a question of what is positive and that we need to look to the future rather than look back to the past," Mr Yastrzhembsky said.

Zubov the loser, not Kremlin

Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who will compete with Mr Lebed should he stand in the presidential election in the year 2000, preferred to stress that incumbent Valery Zubov had lost the election, and not the authorities in Moscow which had backed him.

"I would not make such a harsh connection, saying that the executive lost," he told Moscow NTV. "Zubov as a governor lost, and he lost for the sole reason that he did not do everything for Krasnoyarsk Territory. That was the appraisal he was given by those living in Krasnoyarsk."

Another Yeltsin?

Russian Communist Party leader Gennadiy Zyuganov, who is also expected to stand in the year 2000, compared Mr Lebed's victory, which he called a "misfortune" for Russia, to Yeltsin's early successes in the twilight years of the USSR.

Mr Lebed was riding the crest of a wave of protest just as Boris Yeltsin had when Mikhail Gorbachev was in power, he told the TV station.

"Those who educated and trained Yeltsin have in this case turned their attention to his successor, Lebed," he said. "Huge financial resources were set aside for this, modern technology was developed and assimilated and a fairly strong team was assembled and managed to cover the entire territory."

End of a dream?

The nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovskiy predicted that Lebed's political career would founder in Siberia to the advantage of the Russian president.

"Lebed will have no success," Mr Zhirinovskiy, a veteran of two presidential elections, told the TV station. "

He will be buried there in Krasnoyarsk. He will have no success, and Yeltsin will win on all counts, unfortunately."

A warning to the establishment

Aleksandr Shokhin, leader of the Our Home is Russia movement which was founded by Chernomyrdin, saw a warning for the establishment in Mr Lebed's success.

"The people, the citizens, are not afraid of the fact that General Lebed is possibly an authoritarian leader and voted for this kind of person," he told Moscow NTV.

"Why is this? First and foremost because the air of an unpredictable politician that hung over Lebed is now disappearing because other politicians, including federal ones, are demonstrating the unpredictability of their decisions, and, as they say, there is still electing to be done.

"It seems to me that if the president and the government want to show that Lebed is not the best option for Russia, they must become more predictable for the people and, most important, they must achieve positive results in economic and social policy by the year 2000."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates open-source information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It covers major political and economic developments as the media in the country concerned reports them. To find out more about one of the world's largest media monitoring organisations, visit the BBC Monitoring web site:

See also:

17 May 98 | Europe
Translation of Lebed's interview
18 May 98 | Europe
Lebed triumphs in governor poll

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