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Russia: Lebed May Lose His Role As Envoy To Chechnya

Moscow, 18 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Aleksandr Lebed will shortly lose his position as presidential envoy to Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, a spokesman for Russian President Boris Yeltsin, said today.

But Yastrzhembsky said this did not mean a change in the Kremlin's policy towards Chechnya. Interfax news agency quoted Yastrzhembsky as saying that federal authorities were still "committed to resolving the conflict in Chechnya by peaceful means."

Lebed, who is popular with the separatists and with the Russian military, secured a peace deal in August which put an end to fighting in the breakaway republic.

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said today that a new security council secretary to replace Lebed, who was fired from the post yesterday, may be appointed as early as next week.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow today, Chernomyrdin said that Yeltsin was now considering possible candidates for the job. But he did not name names.

Lebed was also sacked as national security adviser yesterday. In a televised address, Yeltsin said he had taken the decision to remove Lebed because he could no longer tolerate "Lebed's insubordination and refusal to work as part of a united team."