Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 187

Allegations that Lebed is tainted by association with those involved in corrupt dealings were also made yesterday by Anatoly Kulikov, Russia’s interior minister, Kulikov, who fiercely opposes the Khasavyurt accords signed by Lebed with the Chechen opposition, told a Moscow press conference that he will testify to the upper house of the Russian parliament and explain why he views Lebed’s brokering of the Khasavyurt accords as treason. (RTR, Itar-Tass, October 7) Kulikov said that the accords had not brought peace to Chechnya where, he said, boys aged 14-15 are being enlisted in rebel units. About 2,500 have been recruited so far, and some are already getting military training in Pakistan and Turkey, Kulikov claimed. Closer to home, Kulikov said that Chechen gangsters are moving to Moscow where they are asserting control over commercial banks and businesses that were under Chechen "protection" until the autumn of 1993. In these circumstances, Kulikov said, Russian businesses are bound to seek protection from "Slav" criminal groups, and the inevitable outcome will be warfare between Chechen and Russian gangs on the streets of the capital.

All of this means that Kulikov’s Interior Ministry is going to have its work cut out and will need extra funds in next year’s federal budget. But Kulikov was not just lobbying for his ministry. He went on to attack Lebed personally, saying the security chief had employed a known criminal as his go-between to set up meetings with Chechen opposition leaders. Kulikov described the case as an example of "the merger of criminal forces with persons occupying high state posts." (Itar-Tass, October 7) In Lebed’s absence in Brussels, the Security Council issued a statement that the man in question had indeed worked briefly for Lebed, but only in an informal capacity. He was dismissed as soon as his true character become known, the Security Council said. (Interfax, October 7) Kulikov’s allegations are clearly intended to hurt Lebed in the eyes of the Russian public at a moment when the Security Council secretary’s relations with President Yeltsin are under strain.

Lebed Confers with NATO Leaders.