Chernomyrdin’s unequivocal support for Aleksandr Lebed in his conflict with Interior Minister Kulikov had an immediate effect. Within hours, Kulikov softened his position. The Khasavyurt accords (which, a day before, he described as "colossal and absolutely unjustified concessions") should be "the point of departure for further work to implement the Federation Council’s resolution," Kulikov declared. (NTV, October 8) Chernomyrdin’s support may put a stop to open attacks on Lebed for a while. It may also, however, have been self-serving. Kulikov’s attack on Lebed was seen by some commentators as more than just the gut reaction of a representative of the "party of war" to the prospect of a Chechen peace settlement. One observer, Georgy Bovt, interpreted it as the opening salvo in Kulikov’s own presidential campaign. (Kommersant-daily, October 8) Chernomyrdin, who has his own presidential ambitions, may have wanted to nip Kulikov’s campaign in the bud.
Kulikov got the message but another presidential hopeful, Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, did not. He told journalists after yesterday’s session of the Federation Council that the Khasavyurt accords are "a bomb placed under the Russian Constitution." Lebed had won a ceasefire, but he had lost the Russian Federation, Luzhkov said. (Interfax, October 8)
Lebed Upbeat on NATO, but in Moscow Reservations Still Prevail.