Aleksandr Lebed’s Russian People’s Republican Party (RNRP) held its third congress in Krasnoyarsk on July 31, and chose Yuri Shevtsov to head the party in place of Lebed, who may not by law combine the post of party leader with that of Governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai. Lebed told journalists it was a matter not of “choosing a successor” but merely of “appointing a professional” to manage party affairs. Lebed himself intends to maintain close links with the party. Although many congress delegates urged Lebed to put himself forward for president in 2000, Lebed insisted that the top priority of both the party and the “Honor and Motherland” movement that supports it must be next year’s elections to Russia’s State Duma. The RNRP will enter the election as “the party of the regions,” carrying the standard of the cash-strapped and investment-starved provinces against what Lebed called the “outrageous” imbalance of power and financial resources between Moscow and the regions. Eighty-one of Russia’s ninety-one regions were represented at the weekend congress. (ORT, July 30; Nezavisimaya gazeta, NTV, July 31)
HEAD OF RUSSIA’S LARGEST DIAMOND-PROCESSING PLANT SHOT DEAD.