More than 90 officers and generals gathered October 14 in Moscow for the initial organizing meeting of "Honor and Motherland," a movement led by the ubiquitous Lt. Gen. (ret) Aleksandr Lebed. In his address to the military delegates, Lebed deplored the deterioration of the army and Russian strength vis-a-vis the West, but offered no new departures on themes for which he has become well known to Russians and foreigners alike. The only memorable aspect of the speech was his use of the term "Taiga Storm" to describe what Western military planners might have in mind for Russia, an inference which he drew from NATO bombing in Bosnia. (9)
But Lebed, more so than other militant Russian nationalists, is a man who should command sustained attention on the part of Western observers. Come December, he is almost certain to be elected to represent Tula in the new State Duma, (10) and his burgeoning nationwide popularity could make him a serious contender next year for the Russian presidency. Lebed, who also holds the deputy chairmanship of the Congress of Russian Communities, stressed after the "Honor and Motherland" meeting that the new movement’s agenda was reform of the military rather than politics. He said he originally intended to call the group "For Military Reform" but then discovered that an organization by that name already existed. He did not elaborate on why it was necessary to form yet another group toward that same end. (11)
The Bombings: Are Russian Denials Credible?