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Monday, May 18, 1998 Published at 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK

World: Europe

Lebed triumphs in governor poll
image: [ Alexander Lebed, joined by his wife Inna, carries flowers to an actresss on polling day ]
Alexander Lebed, joined by his wife Inna, carries flowers to an actresss on polling day

Russia's former security chief, Alexander Lebed, has won a key regional election that could propel him to greater power in Moscow.

BBC's Moscow Correspondent Robert Parsons reports on Alexander Lebed's election campaign (1'15)
The ex-general has been elected governor of the vast Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk.

With 95% of the votes counted, Mr Lebed secured 57% of the poll, marking a comfortable victory over the Kremlin-backed incumbent Valery Zubov, who took 37%.

Speaking to NTV Television, Mr Zubov conceded defeat hours after the polls closed.

[ image: Valery Zubov conceded defeat]
Valery Zubov conceded defeat
Mr Lebed told the same television network that his loyalties would remain with the region, and he had no immediate designs on Russia's presidency.

"I see no reason for me to aspire to this post," he said of the presidency.

"A big and difficult job awaits me. I have been given a mandate to govern and I will do it in a reasonable and circumspect manner because the people have had enough and for many of them this is the last hope."

But the Russian nationalist added: "From now on I will carry more weight in Moscow, without a doubt."

[ image: Lebed campaigners]
Lebed campaigners
The 48-year-old former head of Russia's National Security Council is highly critical of both Boris Yeltsin's government and the opposition Communist Party.

But he down-played speculation that he would run for president in 2000.

His priority was to sort out the economic crisis facing Krasnoyarsk - a task that would take more than two years, he said.

"The pre-condition for running in the presidential election is the rebirth of the region. I'm going to concentrate on that and, when it's done, I'll think about the presidency," he said.

[ image: The ex-general has a reputation as a maverick]
The ex-general has a reputation as a maverick
The BBC's Moscow Correspondent Robert Parsons said Mr Lebed, the man credited with ending Russia's disastrous war with Chechnya, has been virtually unheard of since he was sacked in 1996.

"But as governor of Krasnoyarsk, he will control one of the richest parts of Russia and a territory four-times the size of France," he reported.

"It's a position that can be expected to draw considerable financial support and force the Moscow political establishment to sit up and take notice.

"The fear of the Communists is that two years from now, the ex-general's heady brew of populist nationalism will prove irresistible to a people grown tired of economic decline and the graft and corruption of Moscow politics."

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