GENERAL LEBED, NATO, AND RUSSIAN NATIONALISM (int'l edition)
In ''Who will lead Russia?'' (European Edition Cover Story, Nov. 9), General Alexander Lebed is portrayed as being more nationalistic than Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, his rival to succeed Boris Yeltsin, especially if the Baltic states and Ukraine seek to join NATO. This contention is not supported by facts.
Lebed has repeatedly stated that he is opposed to any NATO enlargement, but he has, at the same time, pointed out that if NATO wants to waste money and extend itself to the Baltics, there is nothing Russia can do about it. During his 1996 visit to Washington, Lebed assured ambassadors from the Baltic states at a dinner hosted by an American businessman that, as President of Russia, he would have no desire to reclaim any part of Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania.
Luzhkov, on the other hand, has made no secret of his desire to bring the Baltic states back under Russia's rule. His audacious accusations of alleged human rights violations of the ethnic Russian population in the Baltic may one day serve as a pretext for Russian intervention.
You are right when you state that Lebed's economic policy is less clear than Luzhkov's. Lebed has been quite frank and has admitted that he is not well-acquainted with economic problems, but has promised that, as President of Russia, he would hire the best experts.
Updated Nov. 19, 1998 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1998, Bloomberg L.P.