Alexander Lebed and the Year 2,000 Russian Presidential Race
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
October 9, 1998

Last Updated :
December 31, 2016

Russian Electoral Surprise, Dedicated Soldier, Outspoken And Unorthodox Approach, The Yeltsin Rescue, Russian Patriot, A Man of Principles, Moldova And War In Chechnya, No Russian Retreat, Lebed's Failed Presidential Bid, Lebed Envisioned A Reduced But Stronger Russian Military, Western Concerns: Mr. Lebed Opposed Arms Reductions, America's And NATO Expansion Fueled New Cold War And Russia's Aggression, The Post-2016 Presidential Election Antics By Democrats And Other Liberals, Obama Expels Russian Diplomats, Putin And Trump Threaten New Arms Race And Beat Theirs Chests, Alexander Lebed Was Against Democracy, Lebed Believed Political Diversity Was Weakening Russia, Communist Associations, Power Of Communist Party In Russian Federation, Reduced Russian Parliament, Presidential Accountability, Yeltsin's Peace Overtures: Makes Mr. Lebed Secretary Of The Security Council Of The Russian Federation And His National Security Advisor, How Lebed Reacted, Lebed Felt Communists Had Become Too Power-Hungry, Lebed Chooses To Not Run In 2000 Russian Presidential Election, Lebed's Death In A 2002 Helicopter Crash, Prime Minister Stepashin, Yeltsin Chooses Vladimir Putin As His Final Prime Minister And His Potential Successor, Closing Remarks, Reading Resources List

In May of 1998, against all odds, retired Lieutenant General Alexander Ivanovich Lebed, Russian President Boris Yeltsin's former National Security Adviser at the time, was elected as the new Governor of a large working class region of Siberia called Krasnoyarsk Krai. What was amazing about Mr. Lebed's electoral victory is that the general was a complete outsider in the gubernatorial race. In fact, he was not even permitted to vote.

In actuality, the election was a two-pronged victory for Mr. Lebed. Not only did General Lebed secure the governorship of the Krasnoyarsk Krai region -- which now happens to be the largest krai, or federal subject, in the Russian Federation -- but he also managed to strategically position himself for what was then the upcoming Russian presidential election in the year 2000. This was a personal ambition which he had done nothing to hide. In fact, Lebed had run for the presidency in 1996, but was left in third place behind Boris Yeltsin and the Communist Party leader, Gannady Zyuganov, garnering only 14.5% per cent of the vote. So popular was this man with the ethnic Russians, that even though he was earlier sacked by President Yeltsin and the Moscow bureaucracy, many of the common people marked Lebed as their man for the upcoming presidential race.

As an obedient career soldier for two decades of his life, Alexander Lebed was a political unknown prior to the early 1990's. This made his quick rise to a position of power and popularity all the more amazing. Exactly what contributed to Mr. Lebed's success? For one thing, he was an extremely bold, yet also sincere, honest and dedicated man in both word and action. Outspoken at times, the Russian people respected the general's no-nonsense approach to politics, and his ability to get things done, even in the face of odds.

A brief look at some of the past events in his life, as well as various remarks he has made will clearly show how and why he was able to endear himself to the Russian common people. For example, after receiving severe wounds to both of his legs during the Afghanistan War of the early 1980's, Lebed began to acquire a new perspective concerning the powerful elite which rules from Moscow. In his autobiography entitled "I Pity the Great Power", he candidly wrote in part:

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"For politically unreasonable and unacceptable decisions, soldiers always paid with their lives, their bones and their blood . . . Those who start wars know in advance that neither they nor any of their children will ever participate in them. No, they stir up the flames of war for us, the cattle."

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Perhaps the most singular event which catapulted Lebed into the limelight of Russian politics, was his involvement in the Communist coup of 1991. Like a bold knight out of some ancient tale of chivalry, Alexander Lebed led a group of tanks through the streets of Moscow right up to the Russian White House. It was this undaunted show of force which prevented the overthrow of the Yeltsin government; an act which Yeltsin later rewarded by naming Lebed the Secretary of the Security Council.

However, it is interesting to note that Lebed later claimed that he had remained neutral during the conflict, and was simply obeying orders; and that had he been directed to take the White House, he would have done so. It should come as no surprise then, that in 1994, his fellow army officers named Lebed the most admired General of the Russian Army. While Lebed had obviously bathed in the light of his comrades, he had also not hid his desire to reform the military. In fact, years ago he formed a group for this very purpose, which he patriotically named "Honor and Motherland".

One point which was in Lebed's favor all along, was the fact that ethnic Russians viewed the man as an outsider to Kremlin politics. As a result, they didn't hold him responsible for the unpopular mandates coming out of Moscow; laws which made life for the average Russian rather unbearable. Ever since his rise to political stardom began, Lebed had shown time and time again that he was his own man; and that he wasn't afraid to defy even the Russian President.

A case in point. Years ago during the military confrontation in Moldova, Lebed made it clear that his patriotic duty to his own people -- that is, the ethnic Russians -- was his top priority. While Mr. Lebed was in favor of the Russian army's active role there, he was such a man of principles, that even after rising to popularity with the Russians in Moldova, he eventually fell from grace after throwing certain charges of corruption at Igor Smirnov, who was then the president of the pro-Russian Dniester Moldovan Republic. When questioned in a press conference, Lebed simply said that he was "sick and tired of guarding the sleep and safety of crooks."

Lebed's outspoken and unorthodox manner also became quite evident during the war in Chechnya. He was diametrically opposed to military intervention there; and in the early part of the campaign, it is claimed that he sarcastically offered to lead a regiment into battle if it would be made up of the children and grandchildren of "our glorious government and members of the parliament." In a later remark concerning the Chechnyan conflict, Lebed made a profound statement which could have been a foreshadow of what the Western world would have looked forward to, had this man ascended to the Russian presidency in the year 2000. At the time, Mr. Lebed said in part:

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". . . doubts can exist only before the beginning of a war . . . We are fighting not so much for a specific territory but for Russia's national dignity. Russia must announce to the world that it will never again retreat."

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By the middle of 1995, Lebed had become so popular within Russian political circles, that he resigned his position as the commander of the fourteenth Russian Army in Moldova, and entered the 1996 presidential campaign, as I noted earlier. Following his failure to achieve his goal at that time, Mr. Lebed took some time off to re-evaluate the situation. The gamble he took in Siberia two years later obviously paid off, and as a new Governor, Lebed sought to further strengthen his popularity with the common people by saying that he intended to reduce regional taxes. Of course, while this may have been just a political ploy to help him win the election, if Lebed held to his promise, not only would it put the pinch on the purse in Moscow, but it would also give him the strong voter support he would have needed, if he had decided to enter the year 2000 Russian presidential election.

As we have already seen, General Alexander Lebed was a man of surprises. Whether this was due to political genius, or a wavering in his own personal political philosophy is hard to say. For example, upon reflecting on the success of Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, Lebed remarked that "preserving the army is the basis for preserving the government". Lebed also went on to add that it was because General Pinochet had given priority to "putting the army in first place", that he was able to revitalize his nation.

However, at a later date, just prior to the 1996 presidential race, Lebed seemed to totally contradict himself when he drew a lot of attention by stating that if he won his bid for the Russian presidency, he would greatly reduce the size of the nation's military forces. He argued that smaller forces would be much more effective, as well as less expensive to maintain. Maybe it was this remark which cost him the 1996 presidential election.

While Alexander Lebed had been well accepted by the ethnic Russians, he had also made a variety of statements which indicated that, if he ran for the Russian presidency in the year 2000, and won, he might have proven to be a thorn in the flesh for Western governments. For example, Mr. Lebed once wrote an article in which he voiced strong opposition to the idea of arms reductions. The general warned that if such practices were continued, within a matter of a few years, Russia might find itself facing a serious military threat to which it might not be able to properly respond.

Whether Mr. Lebed was implying China or the United States of America, or possibly even both nations, is a bit difficult to determine. As I have stated before, let us not forget that even though the Cold War has supposedly ended, the fact of the matter remains that the nuclear missiles which were aimed at American targets for several decades, still exist. While the controlled mass media may not remind us of these things on a regular basis, many conservative-minded Americans know this to be true. If an Anti-American despot were to rise to power in Russia, this current period of "plastic peace" could end rather abruptly.

In fact, today, more than eighteen years after I wrote the original version of this current article, many Americans are aware of the fact that a new Cold War has already basically begun. While some of my fellow Christians and Americans may not agree with my position, I am firmly convinced that it is in large part because of aggressive behavior by the United States and NATO that this new Cold War has been initiated. I have mentioned before that it is partly due to the fact that both entities took advantage of the situation while Russia was down and out economically, and maybe militarily too, by encroaching on the Russian Federation's westernmost borders, that this new Russian aggression has developed.

In my view, it was very foolish for these powers to provoke the Russian bear by expanding NATO, by placing new missile batteries in both Poland and Romania, not to mention what is also occurring in the Baltic States with ramped-up defense spending, and by doing other things which they have done in recent years. It is only natural that the Russians would feel threatened, and thus have take certain steps to re-establish their dominance in the region; such as taking back Crimea in 2014 from Ukraine, and becoming directly engaged in the war in Syria. To add injury to insult, I was just reading that outgoing President Barack Obama has just expelled thirty-five Russian diplomats from the United States, as well as imposed sanctions on top Russian intelligence officials and agencies.

Exactly what motivated Obama to take these drastic steps? If you are an American, and have been following the post-2016 presidential campaign, then you will be more than aware of the drama which is being played out by the Democratic Party and their liberal progressive followers. Every since Hillary Rodham Clinton lost the election, the Democrats and all of their brainwashed surrogates have been acting like children and sore losers. They have done everything in their power to continue to try to divide the nation, besmirch Mr. Trump, and overturn the election results. This includes numerous street protests, verbal and physical assaults against a number of Mr. Trump's supporters, and accusations of voter fraud and vote recounts in several states. They are likewise planning large street protests for January 20, 2017 when Mr. Trump will be inaugurated.

Unbelievably, their constant whining has now grown so absurd, that they are accusing the Kremlin of alleged cyberattacks, with the goal of altering the 2016 American election campaign to the favor of President-elect Trump. This is why President Obama just implemented the steps that he has taken. It almost seems as if Obama wants to intentionally start a third world war, even before Mr. Trump officially enters office. As if that is not already enough, now both Russian President Putin and President-elect Donald Trump are beating their chests, and talking about a new arms race. Welcome to the bravado of the 21st Century. It's going to be an interesting first one hundred days for Mr. Trump.

But let us return to our primary topic of discussion: Lebed. Alexander Lebed's views on democracy are equally alarming to Westerners. To highlight the weaknesses of the democratic system, and to show why such an ideology was only harmful to the Russian motherland, Mr. Lebed pointed to the political confusion which had already taken root in his country due to the various political factions which already existed there. Lebed argued that this political diversity "has so clouded the brains of the average citizen", that Russian addiction to vodka pales by comparison. He further stated that the situation was now so "out of control", that it was extremely difficult to achieve social consensus on any given economic or political issue. In short, the people were already so divided ideologically speaking, that it had become next to impossible to move forward in any given direction.

What I find particularly interesting regarding Mr. Lebed's remarks years ago, is that in the "Protocols of the Wise Elders of Zion", the democratic vote is one of the very methods that is mentioned for weakening a nation's political structure. I likewise discuss this same topic in my series entitled "The International Jew and the Protocols of Zion".

In light of Lebed's unsympathetic views towards democracy, his association with hard-line Communists becomes even more magnified. Following his nomination by the Communist Initiative Movement, Lebed joined the Central Committee of the Communist Party in September of 1990. This was followed several years later by his failed attempt to form an alliance with Gannady Zyuganov. Mr. Zyuganov has been the leader of the Communist Party since 1993. In fact, the Communist Party controls the Duma -- that is, the lower house of the Russian Parliament -- and is the second largest political party in the Russian Federation, behind the United Russia Party. Not only that, but in every presidential election which has been held in the Russian Federation, a Communist Party candidate has always finished in second place. So, as you can see, Russian communism is definitely not dead by any means.

Had Lebed opted to run in the 2000 Russian presidential race, and won, based upon his past remarks, the Russian Parliament would have faced some tough times ahead. The reason for this is that Lebed maintained that Russia does not need an elected Parliament. His vision was for a "small, highly professional Duma that would be named by the president." In my view, this sounds too much like a complete dictatorship. To add a degree of balance to this statement, Lebed had also suggested that in order to keep the Russian president in check, he should agree to submit to a yearly referendum. If he fails to garner enough votes, it was Lebed's view that the President should willingly resign from his position.

In light of Alexander Lebed's popularity and strong support amongst the common Russians, the government in Moscow had no choice but to acknowledge that he was officially a serious contender for the year 1996 presidential election. However, as I mentioned earlier, he only managed to achieve 14.5% of the vote. But there was another problem. Boris Yeltsin was displaying a very weak hand against Gannady Zyuganov. Thus, Yeltsin began making peace overtures with the outspoken young general who had once saved his political career. Exactly how did Mr. Lebed react to this thawing of relations with the old guard at the Kremlin? Considering his forthright manner, it should not surprise you that he said the following:

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"What else can they do? Success is coming. Wise people start thinking how to build relationships, not about fussing and fighting."

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While Mr. Lebed seemed overly confident, his confidence also appeared to be well-founded, because the Russian people loved him. Boris Yeltsin must have seen the proverbial handwriting on the wall; as did Lebed's hard-line Communist adversaries. It is not surprising then that two days after the first round of voting, incumbent President Yeltsin appointed Alexander Lebed to the post of the Secretary of Security Council of the Russian Federation, and as his National Security Advisor. It was in fact in that same role that Alexander Lebed ended the war in Chechnya. Of course, following his appointments, Lebed knew what was expected of him. So when the run-off election occurred two weeks later, Lebed endorsed Mr. Yeltsin, who won the election against Zyuganov. To this day, there is talk of voting irregularities, and some people still believe that Boris Yeltsin did not win the election fairly.

In the past, in his attempt to show himself as a bird of another color, Alexander Lebed has characterized Gannady Zyuganov and his fellow Communist comrades as the "younger, unsuccessful but voracious brothers of the current authorities". In Mr. Lebed's view, the Communist leaders had alienated themselves from the true Communist ideology of the pre-1989 years, and were only interested in acquiring more power in the Kremlin. Of course, if we consider everything I have presented in this article, it can easily be seen that this may have only been political rhetoric on the part of an equally ambitious Alexander Lebed. In the game of cat and mouse known as politics, one can never be sure of the real game plan of each of the players until all turns have been taken, and the winner has been declared.

At any rate, by the time the year 2000 presidential election came around, Lebed had been the Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai region for almost two years. I had assumed that Lebed would run in the race. After all, he was still very popular, and probably even stronger than Gannady Zyuganov. However, as it turns out, Lebed decided not to run for Russian president a second time. Upon conducting some online research -- being as I was very curious to discover why he chose not to run -- I came upon a Russian website called "WPS" -- or What the Papers Say -- which contained a brief quote from Mr. Lebed. Dated January 6, 2000, the website stated that Lebed had said that he was quite satisfied with his present post as Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, and that he still had a number of promises to keep to the people there. In his quote he said:

------ Begin Quote -----

"My stand on the matter may change only if the situation in the country requires my personal traits."

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Two years later, tragedy struck his life. On April 28, 2002, Alexander Ivanovich Lebed died in a Mi-8 helicopter crash during foggy weather in the Sayan Mountains in southern Siberia. Thus, the Russian people lost one of their popular military heroes.

Briefly returning to the year 2000 presidential election, while I am by no means a political analyst, as I have stated on previous occasions, my personal impression was that Sergei Stepashin -- who Boris Yeltsin hand-picked as his second to last Prime Minister in 1999 -- didn't stand a chance in the 2000 presidential election. Stepashin simply did not impress me as being nearly strong enough to thwart aggression coming from Gannady Zyuganov and the Communist hard-liners, or other candidates that year. Thus, I felt that Mr. Yeltsin would be wise to switch horses before the race proceeded in earnest.

As I explain in "Communism: Is the Dead Beast Really Dead?", as well as "Revealer of Secrets and Sergei Stepashin", Boris Yeltsin did in fact do exactly as I felt that he should do. I sensed even back then in 1999 that it was quite possible that we might be about to witness a political event which would shock the world. As it turns out, we did, and Mr. Vladimir Putin has been in power for the past sixteen years -- longer than two two-term American presidents combined -- ever since Boris Yeltsin chose him as his final Prime Minister in August of 1999. The rest, you all know.

With these thoughts, I will bring this article to a close. I pray that it has been informative, and a blessing to many. If you happen to have a user account with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, etc, I would also very much appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thanks so much, and may God bless you abundantly!

For additional information, I encourage you to study the list of reading resources below which were also mentioned in this article, or which contain topics that are related to this current article, and which are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics web server:

Communism: Is the Dead Beast Really Dead?
Communism: The Raging Bear out of Control!
Revealer of Secrets and Sergei Stepashin
The International Jew and the Protocols of Zion

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