Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 9

The Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) nominated retired Lt. General Aleksandr Lebed for president January 11. The nomination formalized the December 28 endorsement made by the party’s national council. In terms of the public persona of KRO, the nomination elevates Lebed above party co-leader Yuri Skokov, who failed to win a seat in the new Duma. Lebed told the delegates that a "tough and decent person, not a movie star with a Hollywood smile, will pull Russia out of its crisis," asking "who knows better than the military what order is [and] how to ensure order?" Lebed spoke contemptuously of the Baltic States and suggested that as president he would use force against former Soviet republics that moved to join NATO. (19)

In remarks consonant with the efforts of both Lebed and KRO to stake out a middle ground in the Russian political spectrum, the retired general said Russians wanted neither "the stagnation of advanced socialism" nor "the degradation of capitalism." Rather, he said Russians wanted their "own Russian way of development." Lebed also acknowledged that KRO required the cooperation of other parties, a not unexpected admission given KRO’s failure in the December election to clear the 5 percent threshold needed for party representation in the Duma. (20) Indeed, in announcing his candidacy December 28, Lebed called for an alliance between KRO and the Russian Communist party, a proposal that was treated warily not only by the communists, but by some in Lebed’s own party. Despite Lebed’s nomination, one Russian commentator cautioned against blithely accepting the apparent eclipse of Yuri Skokov within KRO. Skokov is a former top aide to Boris Yeltsin and a former secretary of the Russian Security Council who maintains close ties to various business associations. According to Lev Isakov, Skokov’s enduring strength is based upon the fact that Lebed needs Skokov to provide both an organizational base and a source of financing for his prospective run at the presidency. (21)

Ukraine, Moldova Eye Customs Union.