Krasnoyarsk, Russia; 27 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Just five weeks after arriving in Siberia's vast Krasnoyarsk region, retired General Aleksandr Lebed appears to have come in a clear first in yesterday's gubernatorial elections, leaving incumbent governor Valery Zubov in second place. Since neither Lebed nor Zubov won an outright majority, a second round will be held, most likely on May 17.
Preliminary results give Lebed 45 percent of the vote to Zubov's 36 percent. Communist candidate Pyotr Romanov trails in third place with 12 percent.
ITAR-TASS quotes Lebed -- Russia's former national security chief -- as
saying that he "did not expect such a high percent of electors' votes." Zubov,
however, said Lebed failed in what he called his "blitzkrieg."
ITAR-TASS says a high turnout, especially among rural voters, contributed to the Lebed victory in the first round. Lebed says he will not run for the Russian presidency in 2000 if he does not win in Krasnoyarsk.
Meanwhile, in Moscow today, an aide to Boris Yeltsin said the Russian president sacked the government a month ago to preempt a possible no-confidence vote in parliament.
Alexander Kotenkov, Yeltsin's special representative to the State Duma, said that such a no-confidence measure -- that had good chances of passing -- was being prepared in the State Duma.
He said Yeltsin dismissed former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's cabinet to avoid what Kotenkov said would have been a seven- to eight-month crisis had the no-confidence measure passed.
He said the sacking of the government resulted in a five-week crisis, "a far lesser cost."
The standoff between Yeltsin and the State Duma over the Russian president's choice for prime minister, Sergei Kiriyenko, ended last Friday when the Duma legislators confirmed Kiriyenko as prime minister.