The Kremlin reacted cautiously yesterday to news of Aleksandr Lebed’s election as governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai. Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told a radio interviewer that the president hoped for “constructive interaction” with all three new regional leaders elected on Sunday. (RTR, Ekho Moskvy, May 18) Incumbents did not fare well on May 17. Not only was the governor of Krasnoyarsk voted out, but incumbents in the Republic of Karelia and Smolensk Oblast were also defeated. Yastrzhembsky said Yeltsin had no plans to meet Lebed, but that he would be sending him his congratulations, as he would to the victors in Karelia and Smolensk.
President Yeltsin’s economic adviser Aleksandr Livshits was more enthusiastic. He was quoted as saying the Kremlin was ready to work with “any governor.” “Political and ideological differences tend to fade once someone is elected governor and comes to Moscow to tackle, with the Finance Ministry or the Kremlin, the problems of inter-budget relations and of federal property in one region or another,” Livshits said. “Then they all look the same, like in the sauna, because the problems they face are the same.” Livshits said he hoped Lebed would prove no exception. (Itar-Tass, May 18)
Lebed himself told NTV’s Svetlana Sorokina in an interview last night that he was aiming for “mutually advantageous” relations with Russia’s new government. He said Krasnoyarsk was not looking for any kind of special status within the Russian Federation, but that he did intend to renegotiate the power-sharing treaty that the territory signed last year with the federal center. That treaty, Lebed declared, was now “dead.” He said he planned to breathe new life into it by negotiating some twenty-five new agreements with the federal government. He said that his economic advisers, whose names he declined to give on the grounds that “they wouldn’t mean anything to you,” are drafting proposed agreements which will be ready in about a week for submission to Moscow. Then, he said, he and Yeltsin would meet to sign the agreements. But Lebed also made it clear that he intends to open Krasnoyarsk to wider horizons. He said he would sponsor territorial legislation guaranteeing investors’ rights and actively seek to establish relations between Krasnoyarsk Krai and the member-countries of the CIS. He said he hoped for help in this respect from CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, who gave Lebed’s campaign financial support.
Lebed also said he would continue to interest himself in the search for peace in the North Caucasus and that, as a first step, he would be inviting Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov to his inauguration. (NTV, May 18)
YELTSIN, AYATSKOV MAY RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2000.