Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed got a hostile reception at yesterday’s session of the Russian Duma, the first since the summer recess. Lebed, summoned to give an account of the Khasavyurt peace accords he signed with Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov at the end of August, faced taunts of "Traitor!" and "Shame!" Accusing Lebed of high treason, Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov described the Khasavyurt accords as "a fiction … aimed at separating Chechnya from Russia in a way that is most favorable to Chechnya and most humiliating for Russia." (Interfax, October 2) When he first went to Chechnya in August, Lebed vowed to name those to blame for the Chechen conflict. But at his press conference on August 16, Lebed demanded the resignation of only one man — Kulikov. The Interior Minister appealed to President Yeltsin, who instructed him to remain in his post. Lebed reconciled himself to the president’s decision and, until now, the two men avoided further polemics. Kulikov’s speech of yesterday may therefore signal a change in position toward Lebed’s peacemaking efforts. The fact that deputies from the Communist and Liberal-Democratic factions attacked Lebed’s activities yesterday was no surprise. But even deputies belonging to the pro-government "Russia is Our Home" faction refused to express even indirect support for Lebed’s achievements. The only deputy to speak in his support was the leader of the Yabloko faction, Grigory Yavlinsky. (Interfax and other Russian media, October 2)
Presidential chief-of-staff Anatoly Chubais also indirectly criticized Lebed. Addressing a press conference in Moscow yesterday, Chubais made a number of snide remarks about Lebed and deplored the fact that the former general had already begun his "presidential campaign." (Interfax, October 2) In a further sign of a hardening of Moscow’s position on the Chechen question, sources in the office of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said there was "no room in the prime minister’s schedule" for a meeting with Chechen opposition leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, expected to arrive in Moscow at any moment. (RIA, October 2) When Yandarbiev originally planned to come to Moscow on September 23 (the visit was postponed due to Yandarbiev’s illness), Chernomyrdin expressed his willingness to confer with him.
…But Quits While He’s Ahead.