General Aleksandr Lebed has for the first time taken a clear lead in the weekly presidential poll conducted for “Itogi,” the politics program broadcast every weekend by Russia’s NTV. The latest poll finds that those presently tipped to do well in the first round are: Lebed (with 17 percent of the vote), Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov (also with 17 percent), Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov (13 percent) and liberal economist Grigory Yavlinsky (12 percent). Viktor Chernomyrdin did not score high enough to be included. In the range of possible second-round permutations, Yavlinsky and Zyuganov would be neck-and-neck if they ran against one another, but both would be beaten if they were to run against either Lebed or Luzhkov. If Lebed and Luzhkov ran against one another, Lebed would win by two percentage points (NTV, September 20). Lebed has never made a secret of his presidential ambitions. Luzhkov has consistently denied having any. Yesterday Andrei Nikolaev–the former head of Russia’s border guards and now both a member of parliament and a close confidante of Luzhkov–predicted that Luzhkov was likely to run for president in 2000. He would, Nikolaev said, be supported by some parts of the Communist-led opposition movement, the Popular Patriotic Union.
AIR FORCE HAS POOR SAFETY RECORD.