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Russia: Lebed Blames Interior Minister for War, Asks For His Firing

Moscow, 16 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's powerful national security chief and special envoy to Chechnya, Aleksandr Lebed, has called for the firing of Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov.

At a news conference in Moscow today, Lebed said that President Boris Yeltsin should either retain him or Kulikov. But Lebed reportedly softened his threat to quit if Kulikov remains in power by saying, "There will be no resignations."

Kulikov is to blame for the continuing war in Chechnya, especially the recent separatist offensive on its capital, Grozny, said the former paratroop general.

Kulikov rejects the allegation, attributing it to "Lebed's insane striving for power and his insufficient knowledge of Chechnya's problems."

Kulikov is requesting Yeltsin to decide whether to keep him in the post of interior minister, reported Itar-Tass.

Lebed said that he had learned that a series of provocations were planned to force the southern regions of Ingushetia and Dagestan into the conflict, but he provided no specifics.

Earlier, Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who has held talks with Lebed, said he believes Lebed has a good chance of bringing peace to Chechnya.