Ousted Russian security chief Aleksandr Lebed is expected to run for the governorship of Tula oblast when the post comes up for election in December. (Izvestiya, October 22) This would give Lebed, like the newly elected governor of Kursk oblast, Aleksandr Rutskoi, a seat in the upper house of the Russian parliament and a useful springboard for a new political career. Lebed is hugely popular in Tula, where he commanded the elite Tula paratrooper division in 1985-89 and where he was elected to parliament in December 1995. He was mobbed by crowds shouting "Lebed our president!" during a recent visit to the region. The incumbent governor, Yeltsin-appointee Nikolai Sevryugin, is highly unpopular.
Lebed has already been invited to run for governor, but the Russian media are making much of the fact that the man behind the invitation is one Nikolai Matveev. He is the leader of a movement called Civil Solidarity, which claims to have 1,500 members in the region. Doubts about the bona fides of this movement arose when journalists discovered that the 57-year-old Matveev is also the person who published, under another name, an open letter in a Tula youth newspaper on behalf of a non-existent youth movement. The letter proposed Aleksandr Korzhakov as candidate for Lebed’s vacated Duma seat. (Itar-Tass, October 17; Kommersant-daily, October 15 and 19; NTV, October 21; Moskovsky komsomolets, October 22) The fun that the press has been having with this story underlines the difficulties Lebed will face both in building a support base and in winning over the media, which is loyal to President Boris Yeltsin.
Chechens Try to Establish Oil Production Monopoly.