Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 185

The government’s change of heart came after Russia’s hospitalized president, Boris Yeltsin, held his first meeting with Aleksandr Lebed in eight weeks (that is, since before the Khasavyurt accords were signed). The same day, Yeltsin addressed the nation in the first of a new series of radio talks. For the first time, Yeltsin expressed unambiguous approval of Lebed’s activity in Chechnya. (Radio Rossiya, October 3) Soon after, according to government sources, Chernomyrdin agreed — "at the urgent request of Aleksandr Lebed" — to meet with Yandarbiev. (Interfax, October 3)

Yesterday’s meeting between Yeltsin and Lebed is nonetheless said to have been tense. While Yeltsin gave his approval to the continuation of the peace negotiations with Yandarbiev, saying they must be conducted "with tact and intelligence," Lebed seized the opportunity to complain about Yeltsin’s decision to appoint his former security adviser, Yury Baturin, to oversee top-ranking military appointments — a job Lebed wanted himself. Lebed threatened to resign over the issue, but still did not get his way. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, October 4) Lebed’s rebellion prompted Yeltsin in a television interview later in the day to issue a public rebuke, saying Lebed should act like a team player and cooperate with the government. This public dressing down will not sweeten relations between the two men, who are said to dislike one another. Their antipathy dates from their first meeting last May, three weeks before the first round of the presidential elections. Yeltsin invited Lebed to the Kremlin for a two-hour conversation, and Lebed was surprised and puzzled when Yeltsin ended the meeting after 29 minutes. "Yeltsin could not stand any more. Their characters are too similar," a journalist noted. (Selskaya zhizn, June 22) Yeltsin rules by the tried and true method of divide and rule, keeping his aides in a permanent state of imbalance, and this is bound to irk Lebed, who is beholden to Yeltsin for his present job but nothing else.

Nuclear Researcher Formally Indicted for Espionage.