Alexander Lebed

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Alexander Lebed
Evstafiev-general-alexander-lebed17oct96.jpg
Alexander Lebed at a news conference in Moscow, October 1996. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev.
National Security Advisor to the President of Russia
Secretary of the Security Council
In office
1996–1996
Preceded by Oleg Lobov
Succeeded by Ivan Rybkin
Governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai
In office
1998–2002
Preceded by Valery Zubov
Succeeded by Alexander Khloponin
Personal details
Born Alexander Ivanovich Lebed
(1950-04-20)April 20, 1950
Novocherkassk, Soviet Union
Died April 28, 2002(2002-04-28) (age 52)
Abakan, Russia
Political party Congress of Russian Communities
Spouse(s) Inna Lebed
Profession Military
Military service
Service/branch VDV
Years of service 1969-1995
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands 106th Guards Tula Airborne Division
14th Guards Army
Battles/wars Soviet war in Afghanistan
Conflict in Transnistria and Gagauzia
Awards Order of the Red Banner
Order of the Red Star
Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR (2nd and 3rd class)

Alexander Ivanovich Lebed (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ива́нович Ле́бедь; April 20, 1950, Novocherkassk – April 28, 2002, Abakan) was a Russian lieutenant-general and politician. He placed third in the 1996 Russian presidential election, with 14.5% of the vote nationwide. He later served as Russia's Secretary of the Security Council and as governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia's second largest region. He served four years in the latter position, until his death, following a Mi-8 helicopter crash.

Life and career[edit]

Military[edit]

Alexander Lebed joined the Soviet Army's VDV airborne troops in 1969. He spent eight years as company leader at the VDV officer school in Ryazan, then served as battalion commander with distinction in the Soviet war in Afghanistan in 1981-1982 before becoming a regimental commander.

In 1982-1985 he studied in Frunze Military Academy, Moscow. Among his duties was being a member of the Funeral Department during the period of many deaths among the Soviet gerontocracy, including three Soviet rulers.[1]

At the rank of colonel, Lebed led airborne troops during the Soviet internal crises in Azerbaijan in 1988 and 1990, and in Georgia in 1989. The latter included the brutal dispersing of a pro-independence rally at a government building in Tbilisi, leaving twenty people dead.[citation needed]

Lebed commanded the 106th Airborne Division from 1990 to 1991. He received national attention after the Soviet Coup of 1991, in which a conspiracy of government members opposing the perestroika had sought the overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev's government and the reversal of some of his liberalizing political reforms. At the height of the crisis, the Army had been ordered by the coup participants to surround the White House, the seat of the Russian parliament. General Lebed was given orders to send tanks but never took any action against the parliamentarians and Boris Yeltsin, the president of Russian SFSR.

Lebed was promoted to become deputy to the commander of Russian Airborne Troops, general Pavel Grachev.[when?] From June 1992 he was commander of the Moldova-based 14th Guards Army, which became known for its major involvement in the Transnistria and Gaugazia conflict.

Entry into politics[edit]

Describing President Boris Yeltsin's performance as a "minus" overall, Lebed gained fame by suggesting that the country could use a military dictator like Augusto Pinochet.[2] On May 30, 1995, Lebed resigned his commission to enter the political arena of post-Soviet Russia. In the elections to the State Duma in December 1995, Lebed headed the list of the moderate-nationalist party Congress of Russian Communities. The party did not manage to pass the 5% barrier to get seats in the parliament, but Lebed himself was elected in a single constituency.

Presidential election and Security Council[edit]

Lebed ran as a candidate in the 1996 Russian presidential election and finished third with 14.5% of vote in the first round of voting, behind both the incumbent president, Boris Yeltsin, and the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov. Two days after the first round, Yeltsin appointed Lebed to the post of the Secretary of Security Council of the Russian Federation and the President's National Security Advisor.[3] Lebed in turn endorsed Yeltsin in the runoff election two weeks later, which Yeltsin won.

As a military man in the political arena, Lebed argued for "preserving the army is the basis for preserving the government" while describing Pinochet as having managed to revive Chile by "putting the army in first place."

As chairman of the Security Council, Lebed led negotiations with the Chechen President, Aslan Maskhadov, and signed agreements in the town of Khasavyurt in Dagestan which ended the First Chechen War in August 1996. He was fired from the Security Council by President Yeltsin in October 1996, following Lebed's major conflict with the influential Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov.

On September 7, 1997, Lebed alleged during an interview that a hundred of Soviet-made suitcase-sized nuclear weapons designed for sabotage "are not under the control of the armed forces of Russia". The government of the Russian Federation rejected Lebed's claims and stated that such weapons had never been created.[4] However, a GRU defector, Stanislav Lunev, confirmed that such nuclear devices existed and speculated that they possibly have been already deployed.[5]

Krasnoyarsk[edit]

On May 17, 1998, Lebed won the election for the governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia's second largest region.

He held this position until his death in a Mil Mi-8 helicopter crash on April 28, 2002, after it collided with electric lines during foggy weather in the Sayan Mountains.

He was survived by his wife, Inna, two sons, a daughter, and his brother Aleksey.

Quotes[edit]

  • (On the Soviet-Afghan War) "We began the war with lofty aims but ended up with a war against the people."
  • (On the War of Transnistria): "I am proud that we helped and armed Transnistrian guards against Moldovan fascists".[6]
  • (On the War of Transnistria): "I told the hooligans [separatists] in Tiraspol and the fascists [government] in Chisinau -- either you stop killing each other, or else I'll shoot the whole lot of you with my tanks."[7]
  • (On Chechen capital Grozny) "Here we have a Russian city, bombed to bits by Russian planes paid for by Russian taxpayers who are now going to have to pay a second time to rebuild it."
  • (On the Russian government) "Those who profit are the ones at the top. They keep the doughnut for themselves and give the hole to the people."
  • (On the Russian Minister of Defence Pavel Grachev) "I don't like prostitutes, whether they are wearing a skirt or trousers."
  • (On the ultranationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky) "The Lord God's monkey."[8]
  • (On Alexander Yakovlev, during the 28th Congress of the CPSU) "Alexander Nikolaevich... How many faces have you got?"
  • (On the Western democracies): "They support Yeltsin who helped start the war in Moldova. I stopped it. He started the war in Chechnya. I stopped it. Who is the greater democrat then, he or I? Is democracy war or peace? I think it is the latter."
  • (On the Russians) "Most Russians don't care whether they are ruled by fascists or communists or even Martians as long as they can buy six kinds of sausage in the store and lots of cheap vodka."
  • (On himself) "I am not without sins. There cannot be an airborne assault general who has no sins. I spit on popularity ratings. I live and serve as I see fit."
  • (On whether he would campaign on behalf of President Yeltsin) "Do I resemble, even remotely, an entertainer?"

Lebed did not consider Ukraine and Belarus to be nations separate from Russia, nor did he consider their languages separate from Russian. In 1995 he believed both states would become part of a new state, on a confederate basis with the Russian Federation, at the end of the 20th century.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sandle, Mark; Bacon, Edwin (2002). Brezhnev Reconsidered. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-79463-X.  p. 3
  2. ^ Coleman, Fred (1997). The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Empire: Forty Years That Shook the World, from Stalin to Yeltsin. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 386. ISBN 0-312-16816-0, ISBN 978-0-312-16816-2.
  3. ^ Law-and-Order Candidate Finds Himself in Role of Kingmaker, by CAROL J. WILLIAMS, Los Angeles Times, 18 June 1996
  4. ^ "Suitcase Nukes": A Reassessment, 2002 article by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies
  5. ^ Stanislav Lunev. Through the Eyes of the Enemy: The Autobiography of Stanislav Lunev, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998. ISBN 0-89526-390-4
  6. ^ (Romanian)Anatolie Muntean, Nicolae Ciubotaru - "Războiul de pe Nistru" (The war on Dniestr), Ager-Economistul Publishing House, Bucharest 2004, page 451 (with a photo of Lebed' inspecting Transnistrian guards)
  7. ^ Transnistria: relic of a bygone era, The Japan Times, Richard Humphries, October 8, 2001. Retrieved April 1, 2008
  8. ^ Zhirinovsky: Russia's political eccentric BBC News, March 10, 2000
  9. ^ Contemporary Ukraine: Dynamics of Post-Soviet Transformation by Taras Kuzio, M.E. Sharpe, 1998, ISBN 978-0-7656-0224-4 (page 35)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Oleg Lobov
Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation
1996
Succeeded by
Ivan Rybkin
Preceded by
Valery Zubov
Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai
1998-2002
Succeeded by
Alexander Khloponin