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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Russia's Alexander Lebed laid to rest
Russian army officers carry coffin of Alexander Lebed
General Lebed was very popular in the armed forces
The Russian soldier and politician, Alexander Lebed, has been laid to rest with full military honours in Moscow after his death in a helicopter crash in Siberia on Sunday.

At the funeral President Vladimir Putin, wearing an armband of mourning, laid flowers on the coffin of the former general, who was credited with ending two wars in the ex-Soviet Union.

President Vladimir Putin expresses condolences to General Lebed's widow Inna
President Putin laid flowers on the general's coffin
General Lebed's body was laid to rest at the Novodevichy cemetery next to the grave of Raisa Gorbachev, wife of the former Soviet President. The ceremony was attended by many political and military leaders.

The remains of General Lebed, who was once a contender for the Russian presidency, had been flown to the capital from the Krasnoyarsk region where the plane crashed.

General Lebed, who was governor of the region in western Siberia, was killed along with seven other people when his helicopter crashed in bad weather.

Laid out in state

Some 50,000 people paid their respects when his coffin was displayed at a concert hall in Krasnoyarsk on Monday.

General Lebed's body was then laid out in state in the capital before Tuesday's burial.

Alexander Lebed
Lebed's home town declared two days of mourning
Communist party chief Gennady Zyuganov and former Russian vice-president Alexander Rutskoi were among the mourners.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev were also present, the Russian news agency RIA reported.

Earlier, a government minister said the recovered flight recorders of the helicopter confirmed that the crash had been accidental.

A government commission set up to investigate Lebed's death has issued a preliminary conclusion confirming that his helicopter struck a power line in thick fog.

He had been on his way to open a new ski centre in the district of Yermakovskoye.

The Krasnoyarsk governor died in hospital from severe injuries.

Peace-maker

President Putin and other politicians sent their condolences to the 52-year-old politician's family.

Lebed at peace talks with Chechen rebels
Lebed clinched a peace deal with Chechen rebels in 1996
Lebed, who came third in the Russian presidential election of 1996, was once considered a possible successor to President Boris Yeltsin.

But Lebed refused to stand again in the year 2000, saying he had work to finish in Siberia.

He was widely credited with ending Russia's 1994-96 campaign in Chechnya within a matter of months of being appointed security chief by President Yeltsin, but was ejected from office shortly afterwards.

Before that, he quelled a civil war in Moldova in the summer of 1992 as commander of Russian troops stationed there.

Lebed, who trained and served in Afghanistan from 1981-82, also won plaudits in 1991 during the coup attempt against then President Gorbachev, when he refused to deploy his troops on the coup leaders' side.

See also:

28 Apr 02 | Europe
Alexander Lebed: All action hero
18 May 98 | Europe
Lebed triumphs in governor poll
30 Apr 02 | Europe
European press review
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